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Has it All Been Done Before?

I just recalled a discussion I had during a class I had with the professor who had me start this blog. She taught a metafiction class and started it off by asking “Has everything been done already in literature?”

A great question – certainly split the class in two immediately, with people insisting that we’ve borrowed ideas over and over again with different names, time periods, and plots over the years.

I remember telling her that I didn’t believe that. Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart would serve as a foundation for modern detective stories we read today. J.K. Rowling painted a world where the terms “witch” and “warlock” didn’t mean the leering, sinister figures, hungry for mischief and revenge – instead, these could be a mix of smart, kind, and evil figures who used magic and witchcraft for good and evil.

I’ll admit that with the recent surge of YA literature in the Dystopian genre, its easy to argue its all been done before. Many fans have dubbed Divergent and The Maze Runner to be Hunger Games copycats while I feel differently. While all three speak of bleak, somewhat extreme time periods, each one focuses on something different.

The Hunger Games touches on class differences along with the premise of revolution and what it does to people. In addition to that, a young girl is forced to grow up and lead a nation of people who view her as the beacon of hope in a unbalanced society.

Divergent observes how people would fair if they were divided into different groups based on a singular way of thinking. The underlying theme of fear and how one copes with it is also prevalent in the characters’ storylines as they attempt to change a society that had narrowed people’s minds and divided them based on set principles told to them.

The Maze Runner questions morality and whether testing innocent people from a young age is justified in seeking a cure for the rest of the world. The main character struggles with redemption as he tries to atone for his past throughout the series.

Where do you stand?