Monday, 13 August 2012

Buffy and the Heroine's Journey

***I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review
This book is a must-read for not only die-hard Buffy fans, but anyone who writes fantasy novels or is interested in symbolic meaning. I loved the focus on the heroine’s journey as opposed to the hero model popularised by Joseph Campbell, and I also learnt a great deal which I can apply in my own writing. I always felt that Buffy was a strong character for young girls to admire and after reading this I understand why. Sadly, in my opinion there is no other heroine of Buffy’s calibre in popular culture at the moment, but books like this might help to address this disturbing lack.

Frankel does a fantastic job of first outlining the heroine’s journey in comparison with the hero’s journey, and then exploring in great detail how it is developed in the Buffy series’.  I love to dig beneath the surface and find hidden meanings, and I just lapped this book up. The academic style of writing may not be to everyone’s taste, but concepts are explained clearly and there is no difficult jargon used. The meticulous research and knowledge of Buffy are very obvious.

After reading this I want to go back and watch Buffy again from the very first episode. I didn’t know that the series continued in comic form and it was very interesting to read about the new developments in Series 8. I take heart from Frankel’s conclusion that “Buffy, a modern classic like Harry Potter or Star Wars, will surely last. It will be repackaged, rereleased, and most of all rewatched by long-time and new fans the world over.”

When I was teaching English I often thought about developing a unit on the series, and this book would have been a great resource. Hopefully other teachers will discover it. I also hope the author writes more books on the fascinating subject of the heroine’s journey because it is at the heart of so many stories and myths throughout history. In her own words:

"The heroine’s journey, like the hero’s, is the quest for identity, to become the best “self” possible by exploring the dark side and learning to wield its awesome, impolite, rule-breaking strength. Only thus can the child grow to adulthood, becoming the awesome savior of herself and the world around her.”

For an exploration of the archetypal heroine’s journey through the lens of popular culture you won’t find any better than this.

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