I’m not talking about depression. I’m not taking a hand in psychology or analyzing Holden or debating whether he was crazy or just whinny or pessimistic.
I’m talking about the comparisons. It seems every young adult book, every contemporary novel, or any teenage male protagonist gets compared to Holden. From the praise on the back covers to the Goodreads reviews, Holden’s name inevitably crops up somewhere, somehow.
And I guess it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, Catcher in the Rye is one of my all-time favorite books. I don’t think Holden is whinny, I don’t think he encourages massive murdering sprees.
I am completely tired of reading any book and having it compared to Holden and his voice.
So, side note, as of right now I have this idea buzzing around my mind that I can’t seem to swat away: uniqueness is a hoax. It’s impossible to be truly unique with all these people in the world, these stories, these lives that are so similar to each other. Impossible.
Back to Holden. His voice is unique, especially in the time it was written, which is a big thing for me to admit to considering my new philosophy outlined above. And if his voice is unique, than it cannot be in every book!
I’ve found that my favorite books are all male protagonists (first-person, young adult… I acknowledge I have a niche…) and it’s very obnoxious to have all these fabulous and different books compared back to Holden. I understand he’s iconic, and I understand Salinger was basically the first person to write in such a way, but that doesn’t mean every good book can be roped back to this.
This may be the Holden Caulfield Syndrome, but other books have this problem as well. “The next Hunger Games;” “A world as well built as Harry Potter;” “Continues the spirit of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.” It seems all iconic books have faced reviews with this syndrome. If every fantasy book was Harry Potter, and every new dystopian was Hunger Games-eske, than what would the point of reading be?
Comparisons are fine, don’t get me wrong. I do it all the time on here; you compare the book to something people have probably read to give them an idea of its plot and style, which is why all these bestsellers face this problem the most. It’s the voices that sound nothing like Holden but fit the first-person male protagonist box, or the dystopian worlds about aliens and diseases that have no similarities with the Hunger Games at all that bother me. If it’s not similar, don’t compare them!
Does anyone else get bothered when you see books that are nothing like these iconic novels being compared? Not every dystopia is the Hunger Games, not every world with wizards is Harry Potter, and definitely not every male protagonist is Holden Caulfield.