(mis)adventures in reading

I did say that I would routinely write about what I’m reading (or what I’ve read or want to read). Today, as I watch my beloved Browns play in what I can only describe as an unmitigated disaster, I figured I’d start a new bit I’d like to call:

(mis)ADVENTURES IN READING! (cue singing and unicorns and glitterbombs)

Today’s book (or books, rather) is this:

Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy.

I LOVED these books. Like, a lot. A lot, a lot. Even though they were written for a young adult (read, not a woman in her late(ish) twenties), I fell in love with the story, the characters and the country of Panem. I don’t normally read science fiction or fantasy (with the exception of C.S. Lewis’s The Space Trilogy, which will definitely be written about later) and I definitely don’t enjoy many novels of the “Young Adult” persuasion (my hatred of Twilight and Bella and Edward Cullen knows no bounds), but at the urging of my dear friend, Jessica (who I mentioned before) the Librarian, I felt I had to give them a try.

The story centers around Katniss (who will be played by the lovely & talented Jennifer Lawrence in the upcoming film), a 16 year old girl from what I can only imagine is “the wrong side of the tracks”, a la Andie Walsh from “Pretty in Pink”. But instead of a coked out James Spader, Dad Harry Dean Stanton and a sweet boss at a record store (not to mention a bitchin’ wardrobe), Katniss has a useless mother, a little sister to care for and definitely no sweet prom dress to make. She does, however, have a super hot BFF (boy best friend) named Gale that could give Ducky a run for his money. But, instead of prom, she’ll be attending the 24th annual HUNGER GAMES!

Without giving away too much of the story (because, really, y’all should read it), the Hunger Games is a sadistic competition the government of Panem forces its citizens to put on every year. The games requires two “tributes” (aka, game pieces) to be chosen from each of the 12 districts in the country. When all 24 are chosen, they are taken to an “undisclosed location” (no, Dick Cheney was not there with them), trained, fed and then set loose in the wild to kill each other. Last man (or woman) standing wins. It’s sort of like “Lord of the Flies” meets “The Most Dangerous Game” meets “Gossip Girl” (except waaaaaaaaay better). The Capitol claims that the Games are to be a reminder to the entire country that they are the ones in charge and no one can mess with the Capitol (sort of like the Jesus in “The Big Lebowski”).

Katniss becomes a tribute along with her classmate/sort-of-friend, Peeta (who will be played by the uber adorable Josh Hutcherson in the movie). They’re to be trained by Haymitch Abernathy, the last (and only) tribute from District 12 to win the Games. Haymitch is a rude, hilarious drunk and totally my favorite character. And not just because Woody Harrelson will be playing him. Haymitch is forced to train Katniss and Peeta in hopes of keeping them alive as long as possible.

Suzanne Collins is a terrific writer, plain and simple. She was able to move the plot along quickly and still give the reader enough background and history to give us a clear picture of Panem (and Katniss and Co.) AND to make us care about what happens to them. She managed to create a teenage female character that I didn’t want to throttle (I’m looking at you, Bella Swan), but rather, wanted to be my best friend.

  seriously, Katniss. Let’s be BFFs. We can do eachother’s nails and talk about how freaking cute Peta and Gale both are and how it’s totally unfair to have to choose!

 Again, seriously? Boys definitely did not look like that when I was 16.

But back to the book(s).

The entire concept is an interesting way of looking at statism and government rule from the perspective of a teenage girl. The Capitol (well, the people making up the Capitol) are an angry bunch of SOBs that are so afraid of uprising that they kill any hint of independent thought or voice. Scary stuff. I think it was (is) an excellent way to drive home the point that government control and power can corrupt when given (or rather, TAKEN) absolutely and that personal independence and freedom is the greatest gift a society can receive.

Well, that or two super cute boys fighting over you.

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