Evil Corn: A Literary Subgenre Worthy of Serious Study

EvilCornI know what you’re thinking: There’s a book about evil corn?

Oh, you sad, ignorant human. How do you get up each morning, with all that sadness and ignorance? Here, let me help.

We are all aware of evil corn movies. The ur-text, of course, is Children of the Corn, though things don’t really get swinging on the sentient-corn front until Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest, in which no less than Oscar-winner Charlize Theron is assaulted by a corn tentacle (don’t Google it), before the series achieves maximum corn-ality in Children of the Corn VII: Revelation, in which a girl is drowned in a tub by corn stalks. If you want to get really esoteric (you do!), there’s the suffocation-by-popcorn scene in Troll 2.

Books about evil corn are fewer, true, but here’s the really weird thing—they’re good! Don’t trust me, trust all the awards they’ve won and copies they’ve sold, and then go off and write your own corn-lit, because the market is ripe, I tell you. Ripe.

Blood and Salt, by Kim Liggett

Liggett’s debut has quickly been winning acolytes, and features evil corn in a critical role that cannot be revealed here, lest you be robbed of the simple, childlike joy of seeing corn do what corn does best, which is, if you haven’t gotten this clear in your head yet, be evil.

corn childBone Gap, by Laura Ruby

This National Book Award-nominated title features corn that, hmm, isn’t exactly necessarily precisely evil, but certainly is creepy, and is used as a point of reference to describe the evildoer (“who moves like a cornstalk in the wind”), because, as I think we’ve covered earlier, there’s nothing eviler than corn.

Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith

You think the hashtag #unstoppablecorn came from nowhere? This iconic book, which harvested a Printz Honor and corn crib of other honors, hinges upon a strain of biologically engineered corn that, among other things, dissolves testicles. Double-evil.

Under the Empyrean Sky, by Chuck Wendig

Best-seller Wendig wasn’t content with just a little evil-corn sprinkling; he went what we call full corn, creating a fantasy world in which a crop of Golden Prolific corn destroys, well, everything. Just like corn is apt to do if you look away from it for even a second.

Evil Corn, by Adrian C. Louis

OK, we haven’t read this one yet, but, you know, it’s called Evil Corn.



About the Author:

Dan Kraus is Booklist's Editor of Books for Youth. He is also the producer and director of numerous feature films, most notably the documentary Work Series, and the author of several YA novels, including Rotters and Scowler, both of which won the Odyssey Award. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielDKraus.

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