So here's something I've been thinking about for awhile. What's the deal with present tense these days? Have you noticed that there's more and more books using it? What do you think? Do you like present tense? Or does it bug you?
I've been trying to get my 14 year old son to read The Hunger Games. "You'd love it!" I said. He said, "Mom, I tried. It's in present tense. It give me a headache." "What?" I said. "You won't read this amazingly cool book, that I know you'll love, just because it's in present tense?" He went on to say that it bugged him so much that he couldn't concentrate on the story. He says, how can she be writing this while she's in the middle of it? He thinks of books as if the character were sitting down and writing it.
I said, well, present tense, especially in this story, makes you feel like you are right there in the middle of the action, right while it's happening! It's a way to make the reader feel much more a part of the story!
He shook his head and said, nope, he is not reading The Hunger Games. It makes me crazy. And to make it worse, I know he only read like a paragraph before giving up.
But then, I remembered the first time I was bugged by present tense. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. (I'm sure that wasn't the first present tense book I read, just the first that really distracted me) Turns out, I loved that book. But I remember having to get over the present tense thing, and it took awhile. So I could sort of relate to what he was saying. Sometimes present tense is just weird, and throws off the flow, or something.
So, ever since that conversation with my son, I've been paying more attention and wow, there's a lot of books using present tense these days. Most recently for me, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Sacred Hearts, and of course, Catching Fire. And while I notice it and think, oh, present tense... when I first start the book, I'm over that "this is weird" thing and can forget about it and enjoy the book regardless.
So, what do you think? Does present tense throw you off? Have you noticed it in more books recently? Any suggestion on how to get my kid to read a good book even if it's in present tense?
Oh, and by the way, he says he only likes books in first person too. But that's a subject for a different post.
P.S. Amanda from The Zen Leaf, also wondered about present tense as part of her Catching Fire review. Check it out!