"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." -- Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reading Room: The Hunger Games

There's something in me that resists bandwagons, but if I'm honest I have to admit that I hop on-board many without hesitation. However, the one area where I really resist is books. I don't know why exactly, except the Oprah Book Club thing usually comes to mind. I think I can name maybe 3 books that were recommended by Oprah. I refuse to read the rest. Anyway...

Cut to the huge wave of readers of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Young adult science fiction? I'm not so sure about this. But I couldn't get past the plot - it did sound interesting, different, provocative.
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? 
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. 
16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before -and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
My sister had downloaded all three of the audiobooks (it's the first of a trilogy), so I had it easily available in our shared Audible.com account and I decided to give it a try.

I was not disappointed. From the first words I was hooked. Told in first person, having the book read to me by a lovely voiced narrator made it seem as if I were being told her story. It was engrossing, from the post-apocalyptic (sort of) world, to the concept of the games, to the actual games. The characters were well-written - full people, fully fleshed out. The dialogue was good, realistic. The plot was detailed, solid, moved forward well and grew the tension at a steady pace.

I so enjoyed the book that on Friday when I got home from work I had only 45 minutes left to listen to, so after the kids were in bed, I went to bed and finished it. And I promptly started the second book, Catching Fire (I listened to that some last night, so I'm already 90 minutes into it and loving that one, too).

This is supposed to be young adult fiction. This is something I would have read and enjoyed as early as 6th or 7th grade. I can recommend it for mature kids that age, but if your young adolescent is sensitive to death and violence, then they may need to wait until they're a bit older to read it.

The Hunger Games gets 5 stars out of 5 from me.


Amy Bennett said...

I loved it too although the 1st book was always my favorite. I can't wait to see it on film and wish I had the time to do the extra work while it films in town.

beth said...

I've read the first two and, in general like them, but I will say I just don't get why they seem to think it mandatory for YA books to have a ridiculous love triangle. It's one thing if one choice is clearly "right" and the other is clearly "wrong" - but in this case, and in Twilight - there's no right/wrong, just two choices and it's just annoying to deal with all the angst and dithering on that score when there's plenty of other, worthwhile, drama to advance the plot without it.

That, and the fact that I've heard a few things about the 3rd that make me think I'd have no patience for Katniss in it have kept me from reading the final one.

I may end up seeing the movie, but we'll have to see. I tried to get on the bandwagon but just couldn't quite keep my grip on it.

Julie said...

I loved The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, but found Mockingjay not quite as good. Still worth a read, though.

Jen said...

I'm not far enough into the 2nd one for the love triangle to bother me yet. I got a comment on FB about that from someone else, too.

I'm interested in the movie for sure. I love that Stanley Tucci is Caesar - great casting for that one.

Eric Siegmund said...

OK, I'm officially intrigued, and "The Hunger Games" now rests squarely on my iPad as a Kindle book. Now, if I can just finish the three others I have going now...

Jen said...

Eric, just remember it was written for teenagers. ;-)

beth said...

I remembered one other issue I had with it -- it reminded me quite a bit of a favorite series of mine from my childhood -- the Tripod Trilogy by John Christopher. The plot is strikingly similar, though without the love triangle.

Eric Siegmund said...

OK, so it may be a little too advanced for me, but I'm still willing to give it a try! ;-)

Part of the intrigue is that I've read at least one [very old] sci-fi short story – but not the same one that Beth refers to – that sounds similar to this plot, and I'm interested to see how it could be adapted for a younger audience.

Jen said...

There's a short little snippet from the author at the end of Mockingjay (book 3) - in the Audible version - where she explains that the inspiration for the story came from Roman mythology. Theseus, I think she said.