Friday, August 27, 2010

How far is too far when it comes to violence?

I still have not gotten my pre-ordered copy of Mockingjay. And I'm trying really hard not to see any reviews, or spoilers, but I did read one blog heading referring to the violence in the novel.

the one thing that surprised me was how violent and dark the YA genre can be. Hunger Games and Forest of Hands and Teeth have very dark images in them. But then, consider who is going to the plethora of horror movies released every year. Probably mostly teens.

To be honest, the violence didn't bother me. It would have bothered me had the writers not examined the consequences of the situations the characters were in. The consequences being, in some cases, injury and death.

The same goes for romantic suspense. We can't shy away from the truth of the story we create. Within reason - describing violence and wallowing in it are too different things.

I want to be scared, I don't want to be disgusted. Which is why I avoid the Saw movies.

Did the violence in any of the books you've read recently bother you? Or have I been desensitized after too many years of watching horror movies?


Eileen said...

I like the distinction you make between describing it and wallowing in it. That really sums up some of the problem I have with a lot of the creepy serial killer books out there (and mind you, I am at least sort of writing creepy serial killer books myself these days).

I'm reluctant to name names, but I read a book a while back where the bad guy was a sexual sadist. The author is one of those who glosses over sex scenes. I'm fine with that, but that meant I was left with a lot of detailed description of what the creepy sexual sadist did to beautiful young girls and none of the lovely beautiful consensual stuff happening between the hero and heroine.

I have to admit, it took that author off my list of people to read.

Sinead M said...

I'm with you, I have no interest in the long, detailed descriptions either.. my imagination will fill in the blanks.

It's why I love the movie Jaws. So much of the actual violence is referred to in churning water, and screams and running blood, that by the time we see the shark, we're so ready to really see this monster..

Eileen said...

Oh! I can think of another one! James Patterson. I read Kiss the Girls and was so freaked out by that scene with the snake that I've never read another book by him (or even sort of by him since he does the ghost writer thing). He just seemed to revel in that description. I realize it was from the bad guy's POV, but it was too creepy for me.

Stephanie Doyle said...

The violence didn't bother me at all in the Hunger Games books.

And I would call myself a fan of Romantic Suspense (I should since my Silhouette Romantic Suspense is out next year) but I do sometimes have issues with this genre.

There was period where it seemed the darker and more brutal the better. I've mentioned before I hate rape scenes. So when the serial killer is out raping, torturing yada yada... I don't go there.

There is no reason I need to have those images in my head.

Violence and sex are hand in hand. Sometimes I think people use them for "shock" value.

You can scare people without mutiliation and torture. You can arouse and titillate people without whips and chains.

Eileen said...

Well put, Steph! Has anyone ever told you that you have a way with words? :-)

Stephanie Doyle said...

Eileen - I think I know the books you're referring to and absolutely that took the person of my TBR list.

I prefer the more intellectual suspense stories. (And I'm not sucking up - but like yours Eileen.) Where really - I'm working on who the killer is. Or how they're going to trap the killer. That sort of thing.

I'm fan of Nora's JD Robb series. Probably the only series of that length I still buy because she gives me a satisfying mystery each time.

But she did the rape and torture of a teenage kid... I mean so explicitly detailed about what was done... and I'm like... really? You really had to go there?

And let me be clear - I'm not questioning the author's right to tell the story they want. If the story is about sexual sadism and rape and torture - then that's what it's about.

It's just me as a reader who chooses to walk away.

Maureen McGowan said...

I can't remember ever reading a book where the violence bothered me. Then again, I probably don't read that much horror or suspense or thrillers. But the ones I have read, that stuff didn't really bother me.

I think in especially horrible situations, it can be more effective to describe less and let the reader's imagination fill in the blanks. But it has to be handled deftly, or the reader's left feeling like a curtain was pulled or that the writer is holding back.

Eileen said...

I just finished Lisa Gardners' Alone. There's a lot of really dark stuff in there. There's sexual abuse of children and adults. She tells you just enough to make you understand how bad it was, but she doesn't rub your nose it. Or I guess my nose.

I see your point, Steph. I think some people want that. They want to experience the horror. I choose not to experience it either.

Molly O'Keefe said...

oh well, I think we all know where I sit on this issue. Hunger Games and Forest of Hands and Teeth didn't bother me - though I have thought about that baby being tossed over the side of the house a couple of times, but while reading it I was pretty shocked. But sinead, I think you're right - horror films are made for teenagers - I first started reading Stephen King in 7th-8th grade. I don't mind violence, and I don't mind being scared. If I can shrug my shoulders and say - well, that's the world. Or that's what they have to do. If the world is violent - I can take more violence than normal.

But, I don't like serial killer stories, or kidnapping stories. I don't like descriptions of torture or rape. I am -- simply put - chicken shit.

Eileen said...

But such an adorable chicken shit!

Maureen McGowan said...

But Molly, it was a zombie baby. ;)

As long as it's good storytelling, I can accept violence in books, even rape, if it's part of the story.

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