Once I start reading a book, I forget everything else. A new book to me is a bit like the chocolate cake on the counter. If it were possible, I would eat the whole thing, all at once. I don’t know when to stop.
This is why I usually save book-reading for weekends or holidays, when I can be left relatively undisturbed and absorb the words from morning to evening, to the wee hours, with only bathroom breaks and the occasional trip to the coffee machine—resulting in more bathroom breaks.
So you can imagine how hard I was gripping the pages of The Hunger Games and its two sequels (Scholastic, 2007, 2009, 2010), written by Suzanne Collins. I read all three books, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and MockingJay in nearly one sitting over the Christmas holiday.
This young adult series is fast-paced with an extremely-detailed plot, but also rich in emotion…the kind of book I aspire to write. Its geographic locations, technological imagery and perceptive descriptions of the division between rich and poor, inspired both admiration and just a teensy bit of jealousy.
It seems Collins must have plotted out all three seamless books, (at least loosely) from beginning to end, before she ever began knitting the first few words together.
Part dystopian, part science fiction and part romance, The Hunger Games trilogy centers on a teenage girl, Katniss, who ekes out a living in a poor section of a futuristic, re-envisioned earth. She is forced by a totalitarian government to participate in a barbaric yearly ritual in order to save her family. The games are viewed by a rich and shallow portion of the public, desperate for entertainment. Her actions set off a chain of events that lead to civil war.
Of course, the story is reminiscent of Roman history, with its powerful center and powerless provinces; its gladiators who butchered one another in the Colosseum; and the horrific experiences of early Christians and others tortured by crazy emperors for the entertainment of the masses.
It’s about the horrors of war, how children suffer particularly, and the tendency for humankind to repeat its mistakes.
The one thing I didn’t care for is the love triangle between Katniss, her best friend and fellow hunter, Gale, and the baker’s boy, Peeta. The triangle resolves itself in a satisfactory way, but not because the main character took any initiative. She is remarkably oblivious to her own feelings, right up to the end, especially the ones that precipitate some herculean efforts to save these two fellows.
A little bit’s okay, but the author carries it all the way to the last couple of pages of the final book, and by then, I’m dying. I’m dying!
Some romance movies (chick flicks) tend to do this lately, too… Sweet Home Alabama (2002–Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey) for example. They place a girl in between two equally-likable boys, and tell me to choose.
I hate that. Don’t mess with formula.
Just tell me who to like. Really. One of them has to be a dough-head, or what am I supposed to do? Break one of their hearts? I can’t do it! I can’t do it, I tell you.
I suppose my distaste flows from the fact that I don’t believe one can really love more than one person at a time. I think that’s silly. If you think that’s possible, there’s just one word for you: deluded. Go home, take a bath…light some candles, read a book… and make up your mind, for heaven’s sake.