The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Let’s be clear: while I once dived headlong into nearly any book, I’ve started to be very choosy about the sort of subjects I’ll touch. What I’ve learned as a reader is that once you let an image or an imaginative concept into your head, it lives there. No matter where you go, your mind goes with you, and the image/thought tags along. Grimness, the inner thoughts of serial killers and rapists, or nasty,poisonous hate – I don’t want those living inside my mental landscape.
So a dystopian novel about a nation that forces citizens to offer up their children in a horrifying televised fight to the death doesn’t seem like a likely choice. I’d shy away normally, but some people I really trust couldn’t get enough of it. Abby the Librarian and Melissa gave it really persuasive reviews and I was looking for a book for Sandra to read. She’d requested a page-turner with a heroine she would want to emulate. That’s what she loves about Beka Cooper and was looking for more.
The book is grim at times. Violent at times. Heart-pounding at times. But Suzanne Collins must be credited with something precious: deftness. Everything moved from setting and character and the horrid bits were handled with a deft touch. It’s never horrible, just horrid. It never dwells or wallows. The plot keeps zipping along, leaving you on the edge of your seat. Like everyone else, I couldn’t put this down.
Katniss is an amazing young woman. She feeds her family. She never lets her guard down. She is selfless and gutsy. But she’s not perfect, and the urge to mentally shout at her and wake her up to a few facts is one of the tastiest bits of this novel. “Katniss, clue in!” you hurl through the words, hoping you can save her.
I think you should read it. I think your teens should read it. It would make an amazing read aloud for those of you still doing this family ritual with older kids.
I think you should allow this novel to thrill you while it raises questions about government, about privacy, about trust, about reality TV shows, about luxury, and about survival.
I’m going to reread it. I want to be able to watch the writing this time, to learn from it. I was so absorbed in the experience of reading it that I couldn’t do anything but live the novel. This time I want to puzzle out where the deftness hides and really observe the writing.