Excuse the bad pun in the headline (and the one coming up), but I devoured Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and its follow-up Catching Fire over the holidays. I hadn’t realized that the third one wasn’t out until later this year, so now I just have to sit and wait like a chump.
The Hunger Games is set in the near future, after some never explained (but juicy nuclear-sounding) disaster. Dystopian fiction pretty much always gets a pass with me, especially that of the YA variety (The City of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau, The Giver by Lois Lowry, almost anything by Monica Hughes, but especially Invitation to the Game).
I’m kind of late to the Hunger Games party, but if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a bit of a twist on a Greek myth where the Athenians are forced to pay tribute to Crete by sending their children to be killed by the Minotaur. Then add some Battle Royale, because the kids have to kill each other until there’s only one standing. Then add some American Idol/X Factor/Survivor, because it’s also a reality show!
The first one was a better read because it’s all about the skim-worthy plot*, which is really what this series has going for it. The political reasoning behind the action didn’t always make sense, and some of the descriptive writing didn’t always gel with me either. But I had to slow down to even notice these issues, and that hardly ever happened because it was all just SO EXCITING.
There was an article in The Guardian last month about a parent’s search for “anti-princess” books suited for young future feminists. I’m not a huge fan of the overly prescriptive “Jenny doesn’t like pink and can run and play and SO CAN YOU!” books, but it made me think about books with a kick-ass heroine, that both boys and girls could easily identify with. The arrow-slinging, boyfriend-slinging Katniss definitely fits the bill.
* Skim-worthy is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. I think the mark of a good book is when I can’t remember the last third because I read it too fast.