Saturday, June 4, 2011

So Many Books!

This is Suzanne Collins, my new
literary girl-crush.

Because of my migraines (broken record) I've had plenty of time to read. I go home after work, pop a frozen Paleo-approved meal in the microwave, and a few minutes later I'm lying in bed, reading, because the most comfortable position when I'm migraineriffic is the one known as "supine."

A couple of months ago, I bought The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins after hearing its title mentioned a few times. I don't remember where I heard about them, just that the reviews were always rave.

Did I mention there are actually three books in The Hunger Games' series? And that the most recent one was just released, so it's only in hardback? And that, in honor of its release, Barnes & Nobles had a boxed set of all three in hardback for a slight discount off their cover price?

Did I mention that? I did?


I went to B&N intending to spend about $30. I spent about 2.5 times that much, because I also bought a biography, which will not be discussed in this post.

Totally worth it.

I went through the books in seemingly record time. I devoured them. They are on a par with Harry Potter, in my not-so-humble opinion, insofar as compellingness goes.

Compellingness is a word, now. Deal with it.

The Hunger Games is the story of a sort of post-apocalyptic society called Panem, in which a girl named Katniss lives. Katniss is introduced on the morning of the annual Reaping, which is a ceremony held in each district. A boy and a girl, between the ages of 12 and 18, are chosen during the reaping. Why?

Because, this is a post-apocalyptic version of the Christians and the Lions in the Circus Maximus. In retribution for a revolt staged by the districts 74 years before, the districts must send two of their children into an arena where they will fight to the death to see who wins.

There is no truly happy ending to The Hunger Games series, but the ending is still wonderful. Katniss grows and develops, and learns more about the evils in Panem, and the evils in those she loves. She also learns about goodness, and devotion, and love for others. She is not a perfect heroine, but one who is believably flawed.

They are not easy books to read, either. Some of the characters introduced to the reader are killed or injured in horrific ways, and I went through I don't know how many tissues as a result. Psychological torture and sexual abuse are discussed over the course of the three books, although not in great detail.

After I read the biography I'd bought, I read them again. THAT GOOD.

I recommend them to anyone aged 13 and over (they're about on par with a PG-13 movie).

In other news, The Hunger Games is currently in production to be released in 2012. Fortunately, all of the characters in my head bear a resemblance to the characters chosen by whoever cast the actors.

If you want to know what else Ms. Collins has written, I can fill you in on that, too. She wrote a wonderful series of books perfect for ages 8-12 called The Underland Chronicles.

They are about an 11-year-old boy named Gregor and his 2-year-old sister Boots who have lived a somewhat traumatic life in New York City. The reader meets Gregor during the summer, when his other sister is en route to a sleep away camp for city children, his mother is at work, his grandmother is essentially bed-ridden, and his father is-

Well, that's just the thing, isn't it? His father disappeared two years prior, and has never been heard from since. But Gregor, to stop snoopy questions, tells people his father has moved to California.

While Gregor does the laundry, Boots crawls around their building's laundry room, and comes across a swinging ventilation grate. She opens it and - oops! Down she goes. When Gregor figures out what has happened, he follows, and at the bottom he finds Boots and... um...

Four foot tall talking cockroaches who believe his sister is a princess.

There is a race of people living deep in the earth called, suitably, the Underlanders (Gregor, you, and me all being Overlanders), and there is a continuous state of tension between the Underlanders and the 6 foot tall talking rats that live underground. And they all believe that Gregor is a great warrior whose appearance was foretold by the Underlanders' founding father.

The books are wildly imaginative and a rip-roaring ride. Giant flying bats carry the Underlanders around, but they're also equal to Underlanders, insofar as social status is concerned.

Throughout the series, multiple moral lessons are taught, such as the dangers of biological warfare (no, I'm not exaggerating) and how ingrained hate can become between two different species/races/religions. The lessons aren't repetitive. There is no dead horse here being beaten. The morals are woven subtly into the stories. The books could be an interesting way of beginning a discussion about some of society's problems today.

So, there you have it: eight books by Suzanne Collins, all of them highly recommended for different readers of different ages.

Now get out there and read.

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