Saturday, June 04, 2011

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I teach at a high school, and before I downloaded the book, I asked my students if any of them had read it.  The response was very positive.  And it might help to know that my kids are not big readers.  Several kids told me it was the first book they'd ever read for fun. 

I was trying to decide on a book to download to my Kindle on a trip that was going to involve several hours in an airport and on a plane.  It was only $5, and I wanted something quick and interesting that would keep me distracted from the drudgery that is air travel.  This worked quite well.

I knew this was a popular book, and that it was the first of a series and that they are now making a movie about it, but I had no idea what the book was about.
In the beginning, I was startled by how harsh this story was.  I read the first chapter or two and wasn't sure I wanted to continue.  A reality show in which people fight to the death?  And the contestants are forced into it against their will by a tyrannical government?  Oh my.  Wasn't expecting this. 

And then I paused and thought about the things I read when I was a teenager -- books by Christopher Pike - filled with sex and drugs and demons and vampires and zombies and murder, always a murder of some sort - and Joan Lowry Nixon's stories that seemed to always involve someone being stalked or kidnapped and any other book I could find that involved a criminal or supernatural element or preferably both.

So really, I shouldn't be surprised to find that a book for teens is a bit harsh.  Teens need this to stay interested, and they're at a point in their lives where they are just beginning to grasp the concept of "big adult" ideas like death and violence.  Maybe.

I will say this book completely held my interest.  I loved the characters.  As an adult, I found myself sort of wishing for a bit more romance -- but my students told me in advance that I'd find none of that here - nothing more than a few hints.  That was okay though. 

The story is intense.  The main character, Katniss, is such an admirable character.  She's loyal and smart and skilled and she is literally fighting for her life. I don't want to give away too much in describing the book.  Lots of twists and turns in the storyline.  It's nonstop action and I enjoyed it very much.

I didn't finish the book on my trip, and carried my Kindle around in my purse for quite a while and would take it out and read it every chance I got -- between acts at concerts, during halftime at basketball games, my lunch break at school.  I finished the book while I was sick in bed, and immediately downloaded the second book of the series, I liked it that much. (And nothing to do with the book, but I love my Kindle and being able to get a new book without ever leaving my bed or even having to turn on the bedside light.) 

However, I should warn reader, I had some fairly awful nightmares after finishing this book -- trapped at the end of the world and desperate for water - granted I was sick and running a fever and taking all kinds of cold and allergy medicine to try to get through the last week of school, but still, they were some frightening dreams. But it takes a well written story to leave that kind of impression, right?

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