Friday, March 2, 2012

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

I'll admit that I feel a bit cliche posting about The Hunger Games in the midst of the pre-movie fury.  Yet, I feel secure in my love for the series because I read them over a year ago, long before the craze began reaching those a decade younger than me.  Of course, one of the great things about this series is that, while it is technically classified as Young Adult literature, it can appeal to those of all ages.  I actually head about the books from my 30-year old co-worker.  I suppose I should thank that guy because I love this serious, and have from the first chapter of the first book.

While I typically detest being part of any frenzy that is going on, particularly if it does involve middle school girls, I'll admit that I am incredibly pumped for this movie.  Kevin and I are even talking about going to see it at midnight on opening night.  There is nothing quite the same as sitting in a packed theater watching a movie that every single person in the room is just as excited about as you are.  At the root, however, the source of the enthusiasm shouldn't be the movie itself.  Anyone who has read the book should be apprehensive about the movie's portrayal.  Hollywood never seems to get it quite as good as a great author does, and the work of Suzanne Collins will most likely be no exception.

Collions' creation of a distopian soceity (Panem) is just detailed enough to be fascinating and just vague enough to leave readers craving more.  Her feisty heroine, Katniss Everdeen, is brillian.  For once, the star of a book is not perfect.  Rather, Katniss has some serious emotional issues and definitely makes mistakes.  All of this, to me, makes her beautifully human and relatable.  I appreciate her rough shell and distrust for those around her because, realistically, that makes sense in her situation.

For those of you who have not yet read the book, I really do not want to offer up a bunch of spoilers.  I am assuming that, because of the films, more and more people will be picking up these books.  I would rather give you the thrill of enjoying them in the same manner I did.  So, suffice it to say, they are excellent.  Collins' characters are strong and complex; and there are plenty of twists.  I am not sure which of those qualities is the stronger propellant to keep reading, but between them, it is nearly impossible to put the book down.

My one small complaint, if it can even be called that, is Collins' stream of consciousness writing.  In some ways, this is an asset to her because it really connects the reader to Katniss.  It's also necessary on some level because of the lack of dialogue in the arena.  However, there are some moment when, in spite of Collins' writing skill, I feel like I am reading a teenage girl's thought process rather than a well-written novel.  I suppose that is the point, so  I cannot qualify it as a formal complaint.  I just personally prefer the writing to be slightly more complex.  I think that is why I enjoyed Divergent so much.  Veronica Roth's writing felt stronger to me, or at least it appealed to me more.  Granted, she uses this style some as well.  Kevin is reading Divergent now and he prefers Collins' writing.  

There has also been a lot of discussion about the level of violence in these books.  I do tend to agree with that concern, to a point.  There are moments when I am certain the only reason they are qualified as Young Adult is because they follow the story of teenagers.  However, I feel like, realistically, the violence falls on par with what the rest of the entertainment world is offering for this age group.  There is a lot of blood and a lot of violence, but isn't there everywhere teens look these days?  I'm anxious to see how the movie handles this.  If I had kids, I would want them to be at least a young teenager before they entered the world of Panem, but as long as they were mature enough to handle the content, I would not have a problem with it at all.

I enjoyed these books so much that I asked for the them for Christmas.  I do not like to own books unless I know I will read them over and over again.  The box set was one of my favorite presents this year, even though I have only just recently opened it.  Reading them this time through is proving to be perfectly delightful because I do not remember all of the details.  I know how the story ends, but I do not remember exactly the path it takes to get there.  Those same glorious feelings of suspense and intrigue that captured me the first time around bubble up inside me as I read them this time, and hopefully will for many more readings to come.

To all those breathlessly awaiting March 23, and for those who have yet to discover the Games: may the odds be ever in your favor.

Pages: 388
Date Finished: March 2, 2012

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