Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just give in to the Hunger already!

Chances are you’ve heard the recent buzz about The Hunger Games. The three book series has become wildly popular and the first movie is scheduled to hit theaters later this month. It’s become a big deal….so what? I am always amazed by some people’s reactions to any fad that hits society. I know many people who will avoid something simply because it’s popular. Does it make us cool to say we aren’t giving into the latest craze? Maybe. But here’s my advice when it comes to books that quickly become wildly popular… give in to it. That’s right, pick up the book and give it a read. You will gain one of two things from this:

1. You will see that the book became wildly popular for a reason and was worth your time.


2. You will be able to silence the misguided fans of the book with an informed rebuttal on why the book is crap (if there’s one thing I hate, it’s people who say a book is stupid without ever having read it).

Either way you win. You especially have no excuse for not picking up The Hunger Games because it’s young adult literature; it won’t take a lot of effort or time to read.

Oh and also….The Hunger Games is awesome! It became wildly popular for justified reasons.

I gave into the fad last fall and found myself reading all three books in about a week. Since then I have pretty much recommended the series to anyone who will listen (or in this case read). The problem was that as I started recommending the books to friends I got jealous when I saw them reading. I seriously would look upon them with envy (one of the seven deadly sins…oops) and as we would talk about the books I was sad that I wasn’t immersed in Suzanne Collins’ dystopia version of future America. Obviously the only solution was to reread the book, and with the release of the movie on the near horizon, there seemed to be no better time than the present. So, I reread The Hunger Games.

Let me start by saying that rereading a favorite book is one of the greatest pleasures in life. You already know that you like the characters and you are invested in the plot, so on the second (or third or eighth) read you can feel free to really revel in the details and the writing. You can explore the characters at a new depth and take your time getting to know the world. It’s the best.

In this go-around I really focused on the main character, Katniss. It struck me that she is what has made the series so successful. Suzanne Collins wrote the character Katniss extremely well. If you think it’s easy to write a teenage girl as your main character and make her not only believable but likeable to millions of people, you should try it sometime. Katniss is strong and intelligent but she is also vulnerable in many ways. In the face of the horrible Hunger Games she is able to maintain her humanity and even has some characteristic teenage emotion without going over the top. Readers don’t just sympathize with her, they empathize with her. That is the sign of good writing, even if it is young adult literature.

While enjoying my second read of this book I was able to pinpoint the characteristic in Katniss that makes her so relatable…her inability to be scripted. Throughout the series various constituents attempt to tell her how to act in front of crowds and cameras, but she just can’t do it. Even when she thinks she is pretending, there is real emotion behind it. It’s so refreshing to read a character who has no idea how to be anything but a truly honest and genuine version of herself. Katniss also has her priorities in order. She values her family as well as the dignity and freedom of others over her own fame and fortune. All of these qualities make for a relatable character and provide the centerpiece for a bestselling series. I’m glad that young people, as well as adults, are connecting with such a worthwhile character and books that propagate important values while shedding harsh light on the course our society seems to be on.

So if you haven’t read The Hunger Games, what are you waiting for? I just wrote an entire blog post about them while trying to avoid any spoiler details…I did that for you! The movie will be released on March 23rd, so there’s still time. If you have read the books, read them again. Or at least the first one before seeing the movie. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Still not convinced? Maybe this will get you motivated to read the books:

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