I love “smart” references. Sometime, they completely come out of the blue and other times, its the reason I like something.
Take, for instance, Rick Riodans “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series. All about a boy who is a demigod (a half god, half mortal) who had a prophecy about the downfall of the Olympians foretold of him. It is an AMAZINGLY told 5 book series, full of action, adventure and friendship all told from a young male point of view. Often compared to Harry Potter, Percy, while having abnormal power over water (he is Poseidons son), has no magic and is relatively “normal”. He faces danger (monsters, Titan lords…you know, “normal” things) with friends and personal courage and lives full time in the real world. No need to stupify those who have seen the weirdness because there is a mist that mortals cannot see through well so we cannot see the monsters that are masquerading as people. As much as I love Harry, it is the actual historical and educational references that made me fall in love with Percy. Creative, original AND full of references to Greek gods…how can you beat that? I’ll tell you how…by making puns with names and bringing what normally seems like ‘dead’ characters to life in a very real and relate-able way. Like hundreds of cartoonists before him, Riodan created something that kids can share WITH their parents and includes references that adults may get before their children (or before we’re told in the story). I listened to the series from Audible and as I only get 2 credits a month, was chomping at the proverbial Pegusi bit for time to pass so I could hear what happened next. Jesse Bernstein did an amazing job with the characters and I was sad to have the story end and adventure to stop…for the time being. They live in my iPod and I’ve let them out for a repeat performance and I know I’ll do it again and again.
Or in Buffy the Vampire Slayer series…one that I am always laughing/groaning/smiling at because of references. Most recently, I finished season 5 and, despite my tears (yes, tears because, COME ON(!), it was a darn emotional final 6 episodes!!), I had to grin at Spike and Giles’ reference to Buffys ‘encouraging’ final speech to the Scooby gang.
[Standing before the gang as they prepare to leave to fight evil hell-goddess Glory]
Buffy: Remember: The ritual starts, we all die; and I’ll kill anyone who comes near Dawn.
[turns and leaves the room]
Spike: Well, not exactly the St. Crispin’s Day speech, was it?
Giles: [picking up remaining weapons] We few, we happy few…
Spike: …we band of buggered.
Its the smart references that make my day and get/keep me hooked…what hooks you?