Originally Posted by VaporPunk
Well, I didn't say he was funny, which he is only sometimes. God knows, most of my humor is about as funny as the proverbial head-hole but it doesn't mean that I'm trying to be superior or nasty.
Do note the thread title.
Ponder why the NYT cares enough to make a debate of it in the first place.
As I said, I think they're pushing the "high culture" button with their target audience. (The old sneering at the genres. They just chose YA instead of SF or romance.) There's money to be made from making their people feel superior to the "masses".
As for Harry Potter, the books are well written and enjoyable. And they get progressively more sophisticated and mature as the series moves on, *by design*. The original intent being to map each book's accessibility level to Harry's age. The last two volumes are thoroughly adult-grade fantasy by any yardstick.
In this case, accessibility is a floor, not a ceiling: a ten year old can read the first volume but adults will find plenty of nuances to enjoy beyond a "merely" fun story. There are dickensian touches, finely honed prose, and above all an engaging well-conceived milieau. Nothing simplistic or watered down in any of them.
Hunger Games is a different creature but of comparable worth. The movie is a fair translation of the first book but it unavoidably glosses over a lot of the darker details of the novel. The trilogy is very dark, dystopic, and dead serious commentary on human nature under stress. Very apropos for the stressful times.
That teenagers willingly seek out such a story and appreciate it is a welcome sign of hope that the younger generation will turn out fine. It is an affordable series; all three volumes cost less than a typical brainless celebrity "bestseller".
Both are examples of ways pop culture transcends annointed "high culture".