March 22, 2012

hunger games mania

May the odds be ever in your favor. No, seriously. If you're
a teenager going to this same midnight showing and you plan
to talk or be ridiculous throughout, you better believe the odds
won't be in your favor for long. I kid. Or do I? Your gamble.

I arrived late, but I'm on The Hunger Games bandwagon.

By now enough has been said that you don't need me to explain why these books are an international phenomenon. But they meant so much to me, and have affected my journey as a writer, that I want to talk about them. So please indulge me.

For two years, my friend/local bookstore manager encouraged me to the read the series convinced I would love every second. I had it on my to-do list, but never followed up.

There the book sat on my "to read" list for years. Then, after overhearing people talk about it in stores and restaurants with weeks to go until the movie, I realized I needed to read it before I found out anything else.

What did I have to lose? I figured if I didn't love the first book, I didn't have to read the second or third. And no one had to know.

Love is an understatement for my experience reading the trilogy. I inhaled all three, sleeping four hours between two nights to read them as quickly as I could. They're that good. I promise you. I have never regretted a moment of that lost sleep. The characters are intriguing, the story often horrifying but the message crucially important.

These books are now a full-blown obsession for me. I can't stop thinking about them. They pop into my head while driving. I'll contemplate a theme at lunch. My subconscious even plays over them in my sleep. (Fortunately just the running away, hiding and searching for food. I don't know if I could handle the killings.)

The stories provoke thought and discussion. In the weeks since reading, I have spent hours discussing the books and their themes with people who have and have not read it. And as I said, I spend a lot of time mulling it over in my head. Each day brings a new thought or interpretation, because there are so many layers.

Suzanne Collins is brilliant. I have read in a few articles that the idea for the story came to her when flipping through the TV late at night. On one channel, people were competing on a reality show. On another, they were going to war. As a writer, I both admire and envy the crap out of her. I have a total author crush on her. She makes me want to be a better writer and tell stories that matter.

Collins built a captivating story about hunger, violence, war and above all else the potential for good in life no matter how bleak circumstances might seem. The books show that people are not always who they seem. That hate can destroy more than your enemies, and love will not not always protect your friends. That human life is precious and fragile.

But no matter the outcomes, you have to hope life can be better and good to survive.

That's what it comes down to for me, and the reason I'm still obsessing. It made me stop to consider the potential for bad and good in our world, and the opportunity each of us has to affect it. That's a serious impact for any series -- young adult or not.

Collins writes well. Each book is fast-paced, and I had few, if any, complaints about the writing. She left me with several phrases that keep bouncing through my head. Essentially, she did a stunning job, thus my author envy.

Katniss is an intriguing and multidimensional character. I found myself caught between admiration and frustration with many of her decisions. But I loved every moment of her journey and always cheered for her. When she did well, I was happy. When things went wrong, my heart broke for her. That's a good character.

Plus, this trilogy gave me new crushes. Not only do I have a massive author crush on Suzanne Collins, but my heart now belongs to Peeta Mellark. The boy with the bread. I've made peace with the fact that it's creepy for a 25-year-old to crush on a 16- and 17-year-old boy. And, I figure he'll get older, right?

My sister and I are going to the movie tonight. I am excited to see Hollywood's take on it. Film adaptations often disappoint book lovers. Even with that in mind, I still have every hope it will be awesome. Early reviews are positive. As of 10 p.m. CDT yesterday, Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 90 percent overall based on 97 reviews, and 83 percent from 24 top critics. Those numbers don't necessarily mean I'll love it or hate it, but they are promising. I'm cautiously optimistic.

What I most care about, is that I leave the movie feeling and thinking the way I have after the books. That is what matters most: that the message and themes get across to viewers.

(Plus I want to see how my new 19-is-legal-but-too-young-for-me crush Josh Hutcherson does as my he's-definitely-too-young-for-me-but-would-have-been-my-soulmate-nine-years-ago crush Peeta.)

Now it's your turn: Is anyone else going to see The Hunger Games? Have you read the books? What did you think?

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1 comment:

  1. It's like we have the same brain! I totally felt the same things you did - including feeling slightly creepy about being almost 25 and crushing on Peeta... I am so so so glad I finally picked up these books after years of people telling me to read them. Loved reading them and was so sad when I finished the series. I'm also STILL thinking about them and wrote a novel of a post about them on Friday. Excellent stuff. :)