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What the success of 300 tells us about Youth and Reading.

300 is being hailed at the first blockbuster of 2007. The movie, based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, is being gobbled up by young fans.

Many of the fans were young fans attracted to the gorefest that it was. But underneath the blood was the retelling of an ancient Grecian battle (480 BC) which pit 300 Spartans against the invading Persian army at the pass of Thermopylae. While the Spartans eventually lost the battle and the 300 soldiers fought full of the knowledge and their fight was full of sacrifice, the courage and tenacity of the Spartan warriors helped secure an ultimate victory for the Greeks over the Persians.

Recently, there was an article in the Seattle Intelligencer that teens were buying books at a greater rate than anytime in decades. Booklist critic, Michael Cart, has said that this is a golden period of young adult literature.

While book purchasing is down and publishers, authors, and industry execs bemoan the decreasing readership, it’s important to note that all is not lost. The Young Adult market is one ripe for burdgeoning growth because it is read by both teens and adults. When I told my nephew of the graphic novel which was the basis of the movie, 300, he was intrigued and extracted a promise that I purchase a copy for him. I’ll have to pick up two because my husband would love it too. While it’s not completely historically accurate, the 300 could spur interest in history where Herodotus’s The Histories could not.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Zeek
    Mar 12, 2007 @ 13:10:44

    The film was a visually poetic, but I’ll give that it left much to be desired in character development and plotting. Still, the story got through. One of my co-workers was impressed her teenage sons came back with the story of the battle of Thermopylae intact.

    Oh and I ain’t no teenager, but I felt like one while watching it! I literally cheered outloud at one point. (When the gorgeous Queen of Sparta shows her own strength!)

  2. Rosie
    Mar 12, 2007 @ 16:15:14

    The men in my family went over the weekend and couldn’t stop talking about it. It prompted all sorts of historical commentary and many trips to the web for verification and further information. While I felt a bit squeamish after seeing the previews about seeing it myself, my husband went with our sons. I have to say nothing warms a mother’s heart than seeing her kids interested in history and reading. They are still talking about it today.

  3. Wendy
    Mar 12, 2007 @ 17:36:00

    If you can get past the gore (very bloody battle scenes) there is a lot of prime man-titty in this movie. For the guys, the Queen of Sparta wears some revealing outfits – but really it’s the buff, Grade-A beef cake that makes 300 awe-inspiring.

    My only gripe is that it was gleefully melodramatic at times, and I tend to despise melodrama. That said, I went to see it for the visuals and I wasn’t disappointed.

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