Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Quick Note on Tempestuous and Exposure

Askew, Kim, and Amy Helmes. Exposure. Avon: Merit Press, 2013.

———. Tempestuous. Avon: Merit Press, 2012.

These are two books in a new series called "Twisted Lit." They could best be described as derivative versions of The Tempest (Tempestuous) and Macbeth (Exposure).

My overarching note about them is that I am not their target audience. I found them fairly insipid and immature—but I am not their target audience.

The target audience is the American high school student (and I hope it doesn't come as a shock to you that I'm not part of that audience). I don't know if the target audience is imagined to have familiarity with the Shakespeare plays—but (1) the books deviate from the plots substantially enough that they don't serve to familiarize readers with the Shakespeare plays and (2) it certainly helps to have a grasp of The Tempest and Macbeth to sort out the relationships and some of the plot elements of these books. Both books have their fair share of high school cliques, high school gossip, high school hijinks, and high school romance.

Tempestuous deals very loosely with points of The Tempest.  A number of high schoolers are trapped in a mall during a snowstorm; chaos and reconciliation ensue.

Exposure, by far the more interesting of the two, follows Macbeth more neatly. It's set in Alaska with a protagonist who is a photographer; the word "exposure" takes on the double sense of being exposed to the elements and developing a photograph—a double exposure, as it were.

I know some people in the target audience who think that Exposure is very good (though those same people find Tempestuous to be confusing and bland). I'd love to hear from others who have read these to see if I'm missing something important or if I'm just no longer in the target audience!

Parents should note that there's a fair amount of profanity, promiscuity, and pushing alcohol over the tonsils in these books.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest