I love it when I get Amazon gift cards for Christmas. I always have a huge wish list going, and there's nothing quite so satisfying as clicking "Add to Cart". This year, I ended up with $100 at Amazon. Fun! So I spent Christmas afternoon intermittently basting and browsing.
I managed to come in wondrous close - $99.63 in total, with two knitting books, a DVD, and a hardcover box set of The Hunger Games trilogy.
I haven't watched the DVD yet, the knitting books can wait...but I read the whole Hunger Games back to back in two and a half days.
First off, let me admit that I had never heard of this series until I saw the trailer for the upcoming movie. I noticed the little line "Based on the book by Suzanne Collins". Well, I thought, I have to watch it, and before I can watch it I have to read it.
I didn't know anything about the story when I ordered the set, aside from what I'd seen on the movie trailer, but if the reviews were anything to go by, it would be amazing.
This trilogy, being in the young adult genre, does come across as a little juvenile for an adult reader. But, this translates into a fast-paced, fun read, rather than a boring or babyfied story. The plot is wonderfully handled - the central conflict IS definitely a conflict. I had no idea how the emotional storyline of the characters would play out. So often in a young adult book, the characters are too black and white - the author doesn't balance the sympathy and antipathy, heavily directing the reader toward one obvious outcome, which you root for, pretty much from page one.
Another thing I loved was that Collins doesn't go for the Harry Potter effect, wherein the teenage hero defies the rules, flouts boundaries, sneaks around the adults, and in the end is pretty much proved right - the adult mentors of the child end up wiping their brows, sighing with relief, shaking the child's hand and saying "Thank goodness you were here! Imagine what would have happened if WE were in charge!" Which device, being an adult, I detest.
Katniss Everdeen, the main character in this series, is not a rule-follower at all but, unlike Harry, her defiance of convention (and boundaries, and adult rules) brings about serious consequences and does not result in her saving the day. In fact, most of the time, she is a pawn in the political struggle between adults who allow her to believe that she is important and powerful...when she discovers their manipulation of her, she is chagrined and frightened. It's realistic.
The Hunger Games is a wonderful version of the post-apocalyptic, dystopic science fiction genre. As I read it, I was reminded of many other great stories...Ender's Game, Fahrenheit 451, The White Mountains, Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, even Shirley Jackson's short story The Lottery. There are similar elements, and there is a similar feeling, in all of these pieces. Part of what makes The Hunger Games special is the female lead - also that the world Collins creates is very believable. There are 'hoverplanes', but no teleportation. It never crosses the line into the eye-rollingly fantastic.
One negative to note: the entire series is written in the first person "historical present" tense, as in this line (not from the books):
"I go to the door and open it - she stands there, waiting for me. 'Finally,' she says."
It gets annoying. The historical present works well as an occasional device, but the constant precipice feeling made me impatient after a while.
Other than that, I LOVED this series. I wish I hadn't read it so quickly, though, because now I have a long time to wait until March, when the movie comes out.
The Hunger Games Trilogy
by Suzanne Collins
Give to Others: absolutely
Book Plate: ABsolutely!