Lately I’ve been complaining to anyone who will listen about how my mushy, sleepy pregnant brain is having difficulties reading actual grownup books. (Kind of a nightmare scenario for a bookworm such as myself, but it’s possible that worse things have happened to people. Maybe.) So a few different smart, bookish friends recommended reading the young adult novel The Hunger Games, the first in Suzanne Collins’s wildly successful trilogy about a dystopic future in which teenagers are forced to kill each other in televised blood sports. It seemed like a strangely perfect follow-up to Anne of Green Gables, in the way that maybe after a week of dining on chamomile tea and angel food cake you’d crave a shot of whiskey and some meat or something. (Like I’ve had a shot of whiskey in years!) I admit to thinking it’s a little creepy when adults read a lot of YA stuff, or, like, name Shel Silverstein as their favorite poet, but hey, this is where I am right now, and I might as well embrace it.
Anyway, these friends were right in that I tore through the book somewhat maniacally, reading in spare bits of time, standing up in the kitchen while Harper played in the sink for probably too long to be healthy. I don’t have any idea how a person writes book like this, but it is really unputdownable (well, unputdownable, but also very easy to hop in and out of, so putdownable but then pickbackupablesoonsoyoucanfindoutwhat’shappeningable.) I thought about it at odd moments. I had creepy dreams about it. I always love reading about bleak imagined futures — I think the last really good/horrifying dystopic world I visited was Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake — and this is a particularly interesting (and bleak) one. I admit that there were aspects of the novel my crotchety critical brain picked away at, but my common-reader-brain was happy as a clam, devouring pages like, uh, something happy clams really like. Sand? You get the idea.
One of the things I liked best about The Hunger Games was the protagonist, an ass-kicking and complicated 16 year old girl who is tough, brave, and can shoot a squirrel through its eye. Who doesn’t love a scrappy outsider trying to make her way in a complicated world? Plus she thinks wearing dresses is kind of dumb. Love her. And even though my current sappy self found the book extraordinarily violent, I remember as a preteen loving books about dystopias and survival, being titillated by the violence as I was fascinated by the “down with the man” attitude.
As for Harper’s review of it, I will just note that while I was sitting and reading it she came over to pull it out of my hands, throw it on the floor, and hand me instead a copy of Mrs Dalloway that was lying around. I am not kidding. Was she trying to make me feel idiotic or what? Maybe she’s just the smartest kid in the world. Probably that.
Anyway, there are two more books in the trilogy, and guess what, two more books in my Anne of Green Gables volume. What perfect companions! (?)
Thanks for the suggestions, people! Hope I’m not ever forced to murder you to entertain the masses!