Dumbed Down Dan Brown?

This Friday’s post is a little different as I’m going to discuss the news this week that publishing power house, Penguin Random House, are to publish an abridged version of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code aimed at the YA (Young Adult) market. This edition of the bestselling novel is due for release on 8th September 2016 and will be rejacketed in order to appeal to readers aged 13+.

Da Vinci Code

My main response to this, quite frankly ridiculous move, is why?! In this article on the Bookseller, PRH have stated that: “The Da Vinci Code is a thrilling, page-turning adventure that we know older teenagers are already enjoying. We’re pleased that our abridged edition is going to enable more young adults to enjoy Dan Brown’s international bestseller.” Now I have to agree, whatever you thinking of the writing, The Da Vinci Code is a gripping read but let’s be honest, it’s hardly a complex narrative! TDVC came out in 2003 when I was 13 years old and I definitely read it before the film was released in 2006 because I went to the cinema to see how awful the adaptation was (sorry Tom Hanks, I love you but it wasn’t good!). So that means I was reading the original text at the exact age PRH are marketing this abridged version to.

Da Vinci Code

Oh Tom…

I completely understand modernising, adapting, abridging complex classics and Shakespearean plays in order to introduce teens to these powerhouses of literature but Dan Brown is no Shakespeare. The snobs of the literary world have long mocked his narratives but there’s no denying his popularity – TDVC alone has sold 82 million copies – and that is because his books are already accessible to the masses. As a 13–16 year old I was addicted, I read all of his books cover-to-cover and enjoyed them for what they were. I certainly wasn’t struggling to understand what was going on!

The YA market has exploded in the last few years. There are more YA/adult crossover novels than ever and my bookshelves and blog are full of YA titles I’ve read or are dying to read. This is because YA fiction, at the moment, is brilliant! It is NOT dumbed down adult writing, which this announcement is implying. Writers such as Non Pratt, John Green, Holly Bourne, Louise O’Neill, Marcus Sedgwick, John Boyne, Kevin Brooks, Tanya Bryne (to name a small few in the YA industry) are creating complex, detailed and gripping narratives everyday. They tackle every issue under the sun, from the harrowing to the hilarious, and most are written with more style and clarity than Brown’s TDVC.

Now I’m not naïve enough to ignore the fact that there is an obvious monetary and marketing motive behind all of this, whether it’s to get teens to buy this new version or reach out and buy the ‘adult’ version in an act of ‘rebellion’. But there are so many brilliant YA writers who create the same, if not better, thrilling and adventure-style narratives aimed at 13+ readers. Why can’t PRH put their money into finding and nurturing fresh talent rather than unnecessarily rewriting a book that is already accessible to that market?

If you are thirteen or if you are looking for that type of book for your 13 year-old, turn to the Anthony Horowitzes, Charlie Higsons and Michael Grants of the world, instead of buying into this, what I can only describe as, patronising and unnecessary move. Give the YA market credit and their readers credibility, they are more able than you think PRH.

What do you think about this decision? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please comment below.

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3 thoughts on “Dumbed Down Dan Brown?

  1. Couldnt agree more! Releasing an abridged version of a book purely to make money whilst simultaneously patronising an audience is downright despicable. I read the books at the same age as you- whilst I read a good few books, I wouldn’t say I’m an avid reader, but I thoroughly enjoyed the originals, addicted to reading “just one more page” and it was within my grasp to understand what was going on. If anything, readers of an abridged version would be missing out on extra detail and scene setting!

  2. I completely agree. I read it at about fourteen and managed just fine, thank you. To be honest, I’m not really a fan of abridged novels anyway. There have been a few classics that I thought I’d read when I was younger only to find out later that it was an abridged version! I don’t really understand the point of them when the story can be broken down into a picture book or a comic instead. Saying that though, young readers are a lot more capable than older people realise and most of them will be able to tackle difficult books if they choose to.

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