Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quest novels: eBook and audiobook journeys worth taking

When I was a little girl I wanted to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched her fall in love, graduate high school, and save the world over and over again. But in all honesty, I loved Buffy Summers because she was just like me. There’s no shame in that. No judgment if you wanted to be a Power Ranger or Spiderman. We all wanted to be somebody growing up. But we weren’t searching for the traits that made our heroes invincible; we were looking for the traits that made them human. Perhaps that’s why so many authors beat us over the head with the quest motif. It’s a plot device that’s been around since the Middle Ages, present in stories across the globe. Here’s what you need to know: the hero/heroine is introduced, the hero/heroine desires an object, person or idea, they quest (duh) to obtain said object, person or idea, the hero/heroine returns triumphant, the end! We see them falter, cry out, and stumble along the way, but they always get where they are heading. It’s the kind of ending we all hope for. Here’s some titles that will make your inner child (trust me they’re still in there) cheer.  
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: We all know and love Tolkien. In fact, I’d probably get roasted if I didn’t include this much loved classic on my list, so here it is. All of your favorite mythological creatures make an appearance in Bilbo Baggins most exciting, and only, adventure. It’s the prelude to Tolkien’s celebrated Lord of the Rings trilogy and worth the read for all ages.  
A Game of Thrones: Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin: It’s a bit darker, but that’s how it is with quest novels. There’s bound to be blood and gore, so suck it up folks, at least for this series. If some of you are thinking ‘Hey isn’t this that series on HBO…’ you’d be correct. As much as I enjoy the action-packed, gritty, too-much-for-basic-cable show, I’d still take the novel any day.
The Hunger Game Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: You have all probably heard of it by now, but not too long ago this series was deemed too dark for young readers. Look at it now, doubters! Meet Katniss Everdeen, the female lead (channeling Buffy here) chosen to compete in a post-apocalyptic series of games, where victory means survival and defeat means death. Dramatic? Yes. Awesome? Yes.  

Christina Bernecker is a training associate at OverDrive.

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