For those who would like to be familiar with the worldviews and messages in the books, films, and TV shows effecting a primarily Young Adult audience, I offer the following excerpts from some of my recent reviews. Keep in mind that my main goal is to look at how the story reflects and shapes the readers’ worldview. Click on the title links for the full reviews.
Star Trek Into Darkness seems to give a nod to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness not only in its title but in the journey through the moral murkiness that lurks in even the best of us. The book is primarily about the twilight of souls unable to see the light of morality, goodness and virtue. The movie highlights the fact that it’s not the galactic space around us that is the true final frontier of undiscovered country. It’s the moral space within us.
Whenever people pursue revenge rather than justice, they cannot help but enter into darkness. Yes, the world is full of ethical dilemmas, but both the ends and the means matter. When a clever, talented director makes a film that inclines us to cheer for blood-splattered revenge, even the audience enters into a darkness that goes beyond the dimming of theater lights. By the time the credits rolled, the only light that shone into the midnight of moral nihilism was the light flickering from a burning mansion.
The inner front and back covers of the book quote a line from a Rolling Stones song about the devil: “Pleased to meet you; hope you guess my name.” It wasn’t too difficult. In Horns, says the LA Times, “we watch a devil learn how to be one” in a story that shows “respect for the tradition of Satan as anti-hero, tale-teller and trickster…fire and brimstone have never looked this good.”
Salon.com’s review noted that “Oblivion is a technical triumph rather than a philosophical breakthrough.” Indeed. We are more than our biology. We are also more than our memories. Even combining those two things perfectly would not mean the original had been restored. There is something about who we are that transcends biology and bytes. We have compelling reasons to believe that our personal identity cannot be reduced to inexplicable complexity arising from biological and chemical machinery.