I have other blog posts ready to published, but I felt so strongly, that I just had to talk about what I will now refer to as ‘The Da Vinci Debacle.’ I have spent the last few days gathering my thoughts about this subject, so here goes; A week ago it was announced that Random House are re-releasing The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, but this time, as a YA novel. Basically this means that the book will be abridged, and “aimed at making The Da Vinci Code more appropriate for readers in their early teens” but reportedly will “maintain Brown’s original plot.” This news sparked a lot of controversy and discussion online. It caught my attention on Twitter and needless to say, people didn’t react well. I think there are various reasons why many people (myself included), don’t think The Da Vinci should get or needs a so called ‘YA Adaptation.’
The first and most important reason, at least for me and many people on Twitter – Teenagers do not need texts dumbed down or simplified for them. Say what you like but that is what the book will be. I feel that releasing an abridged version of the book is telling teenagers that they aren’t capable of simply reading the original text, when they most certainly are. I read The Da Vinci Code when I was 14/15 and I absolutely loved it, it became one of my favourite books. I had no trouble understanding the book, it enthralled me. So yeah, the idea of teenagers needing a simplified book is insulting to today’s teenagers, to my 15-year-old self, and to teenagers who have enjoyed the book in the past. I feel this is just another example of the common societal conceptions of today’s teens, the idea that they’re immature, too lost in technology, less intelligent, and this is just unfair and not true. Teenagers are diverse and smart, and we should not talk down to them.
Something I also don’t understand is; we expect children as young as 11 to understand Shakespeare, Dickens, and other challenging texts, yet, The Da Vinci Code is supposedly too much for teens? I don’t think so. Yes, there are plenty of abridged versions of more complex texts for younger people to read, but those are not the texts taught in schools. There is nothing in The Da Vinci Code that teenagers wouldn’t understand. Yes the plot has a lot of heavy themes, and the plot can be a bit convoluted, but to tell teens it’s too complicated for them is insulting. We need to stop telling teenagers they’re stupid
I am going to leave you with a few sources I found interesting and useful –
An Article from Publishers Weekly - http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/70408-ya-edition-of-dan-brown-s-da-vinci-code-announced-for-fall.html - Dan Brown tweeted this article to announce the release of the new book.
An Article from The Guardian - https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/may/18/the-da-vinci-code-to-be-reformulated-for-ya-readers-dan-brown - Explains my thoughts better than I can! Though seemingly not a big fan of the book, Jordison does make some good points.
A YouTube Video by baldbookgeek - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HnCpMnsEbQ – Discusses why maybe a YA version might actually work.