Something I like about summer is I can catch-up on my reading. It doesn’t happen much during the regular semester because of time constraints (there’s only so far I can stretch myself before being completely useless!), so in the summer, I take full advantage. I joined a book club, which gives me an extra push to read (but that’s another post for another time).
I like young adult (YA) books. But not just any YA; I like fantasy, magic, romance, and a little paranormal. It’s why I like Harry Potter and Twilight, and it’s why I got sucked into reading The Hunger Games trilogy. All three books in four days (of course, I did this when we went on vacation to the beach, before the new semester began, when I still had some extra time).
Once I started reading the first book, The Hunger Games, I couldn’t stop. I downloaded the second (Catching Fire) and the third (Mockingjay) into my phone. I just had to know what happened to the characters and I couldn’t wait until the next time I made it to a bookstore. I needed them NOW.
(On a side note, I’ve never been happier that eReaders exist. I never thought I’d give-in to downloading books – and reading them – from a hand-held device, but it’s actually quite useful. I will NOT give up reading actual books, however; there’s something sacred about that experience… it’s a complete sensory experience. But again, another post for another time.)
So The Hunger Games books were pretty awesome. I loved the story line, the setting, the themes. When I started reading the first book, I kept thinking: This is so Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” meets Survivor with a sprinkle of X-Men. Seriously. Read the beginning of The Hunger Games, the way they pick who the two contestants for each district will be, and tell me it doesn’t sound like “The Lottery.” It’s such a macabre process! And once Katniss and Peeta are in the “games,” it is literally survival of the fittest in a reality TV fashion during this post-apocalyptic era.
One of my favorite lines comes from the last book, and I think it sums up one of the main themes quite nicely (and it’s an excellent observation about our society, our world, our history): “Collective thinking is usually short-lived. We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.” — from Mockingjay.” I can see using this in composition courses and triggering some great discussions.
The writing was good (though not great at times). The books are written in the first person, from Katniss’s point-of-view, which works well. However, sometimes, there’s a lot more telling than showing. We don’t SEE the scenes unfold, we HEAR Katniss telling us about it. This is especially true in the second and third books. Sometimes it didn’t bother me too much, but other times, it did. I didn’t want her to tell me about the reunion with Gale when she got back to District 12; I wanted to see it.
I saw a little of Twilight in the love triangle, when both Gale and Peeta are talking about her while she’s feigning sleep in the last book (Eclipse, anyone?)
But the books were such an addictive read. Suzanne Collins did a great job in hooking the reader with cliffhangers: at the end of chapters and at the end of books. She ensured readers couldn’t wait to read the next book. And the strong within the books, especially the second and third, were war-related themes: dangers of war, the brutality of it, the reality of PTSD. Real dangers today told in a story of a futuristic community. But overall it’s the story of mankind, how we don’t learn from our mistakes but instead keep making them over, and over again. When I read the last word in the final book, all I could say was, “Oh.”
I would definitely recommend these books!