My Unadulterated Gushyness for “The Hunger Games”

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m allergic to bandwagons. I tend to break out in hives and cold sweats and some odd and rare strain of turrets that involves me spewing words like “shallow”, “lemmings” and something akin to “brain-rape”. However, every once in a while, I see one that I actually want to ride. “The Hunger Games” is my latest.

Now, before you tell me the obvious, yes I know I’m a little late for this ride. But for someone who didn’t jump on “Harry Potter” until the original book had been out for over a decade,  I think I’m doing pretty good here. So cut me some slack. Geez!

Actually, originally I only bought the first book in the “Hunger Games” trilogy in order to do some research for my own writing. After all, when you are writing a middle grade post apocalyptic dystopian novel, and there’s a young adult series out that is the same genre and is doing so crazily well that  nobody can imagine the world before it existed (okay so I’ll concede that’s a strech, but not a huge one), it’s probably a good idea to read that series. For those that are not in the know about this, middle grade generally follows young adult for what is popular. So… you get the picture as to why I bought “The Hunger Games”.

However, that does not explain why I bought “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay” the moment I was finished with the book before them. Considering that I am a full time student and planning and paying for a wedding in June, I do not spend money frivolously right now. But with books like that, you have to get the next one as soon as possible. It is not a choice. It must be done.

Where do I begin in explaining why I love this trilogy so much? Maybe it’s the post-apocalyptic dystopian setting of which I am an obvious fan. Maybe it’s the depth and breadth of the characters, whom you actually care about before they have to die terribly. (Damn you, Susan Collins!) Maybe it’s the social commentary and hilarious irony of them making movies of the books. Or maybe it’s because, with these books, both Susan Collins and society in general are giving a big old fat middle finger to the flawed idea that children these days must be protected from all negativity.

Yes, these are young adult books and not children’s. And no, my own books do not have that kind of violence in them. However, in the publishing vernacular, “young adults” are teenagers, which means they are not yet adults. And in the real world it is teenagers who often have to deal with the harshest realities. Maybe not quite as harsh as having your name picked at the reaping, but still far from the perfection many fiction stories would have you believe. In Katniss, young readers see a picture of themselves. No perfection, despite what society might cover them in. No peace, despite what society might say of their lives. Just a harsh reality they have to somehow survive. And maybe, if they’re lucky, they will still retain their humanity on the other side. If they make it that far, anyway.

So, yes, “The Hunger Games” deserves all the hype it has gotten. And I will not only ride this bandwagon, I would drive it if they’d let me. Bravo, Ms. Collins. And thank you for returning dignity to young adult authorship and literature.

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2 Responses to “My Unadulterated Gushyness for “The Hunger Games””

  1. Totally understand, these are super compelling books. They almost make you keep reading.

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