Hunger Games and Protest

220px-Hunger_gamesThis morning’s Weekend Edition/Saturday on NPR included a brief interview with Stephen Carter, a professor and novelist who discusses how Suzanne Collin’s massively popular series of books and movies mirrors much of what’s happening lately, so much so that the District 12 Salute is being used by protesters around the world.

I generally like to wave at everyone on the bandwagon as it passes me by, so the universal fascination with Katniss et al. gave me the reason I needed to leave these books in the bookstore. (NB: I was well into Harry Potter before the world went mad.)

I didn’t like the first book in Collins’ series, yet forced myself to read it a second time and found it a bit more tolerable. Even so, I was not inspired to finish the series. One, there are an awful lot of really good books for adults that I haven’t yet read. Two, the idea of children killing children (pace Lord of the Flies) appalls me. And three, I’m not a huge fan of dystopian novels in the first place!

But after hearing Carter’s analysis of The Hunger Games, six years after publication still relevant to current national and world affairs, I’m starting to rethink my too off-handed dismissal of the series. I’m not yet ready to buy the books, but I know I can find them in my library. Holiday reading! Yay! Or maybe not “Yay”. Maybe just a limp wave of resignation. I’m not expecting a happy read, but with Carter’s analysis in my head, I have hopes for an interesting one.

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The Hunger Games

hunger gamesI finally read The Hunger Games! Now I know what all the fuss was about. The plot unfolds at just the right pace. As the New York Times’ Stanley Fish wrote, “you’re always on the hook.” And if you have (or had) an experience like mine, you form such a bond with the protagonist – Katniss Everdeen – that it becomes almost impossible to put the book down without knowing her fate. Although Haymitch Abernathy (Katniss’ mentor) at one point calls her “sullen,” “hostile” and having “about as much charm as a dead slug,” Katniss is honest – at least in her behind-the-scenes dealings – and as the reader, you somehow understand just about every move she makes. When she volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Games, for instance, you might think: I would do the same for my little brother or sister. And as for me, when Katniss’ feelings for Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne begin confusing her, well, let’s just say I’ve been there…

Another beautiful and relatable aspect of the story is Katniss’ friendship with Rue. Rue is the answer to Katniss’ loneliness. She is sweet as pie and reminiscent of Katniss’ sister, Prim. I was heartbroken when she died, but at the same time, given my strong alliance with Katniss, I couldn’t help but feel relieved because in order for Katniss to survive the Games, Rue needed to die. But Katniss doesn’t seem at all relieved. She genuinely mourns the loss of her friend, and though risky, decides to honor Rue following her death.

Katniss “decorates” Rue’s body in flowers not only to honor her, but also to take revenge on the “Capitol.” In doing this, Katniss defies the norms of the Games outright, but this would not be her last act of defiance.

In all honesty, the Capitol’s reaction to Katniss’ final rebellion has made me uneasy about reading the second book. In a way, I feel lucky that Katniss walked away from the Games, and I wish that she could return home and put the Games behind her, but I know this won’t happen… Okay, okay, I admit: I’ll probably pick up the next book in no time, but still I’m apprehensive. Is it just me?

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’d like to think that first of all, Katniss could live happily ever after and second of all, the world would never come to this. It may surprise you to learn that the Games themselves upset me less than the socioeconomic disparities between the “Districts.” The extreme hunger the people of Districts 11 and 12 endure on a daily basis was so upsetting to me, I think, because it’s not farfetched like the Games; it’s not off-base. Poverty and hunger are real, observable problems in today’s world. So, as I reflect on this book, a desire to address existing inequalities expands in me. Perhaps this is the lens through which I’ll present The Hunger Games if I use it in one of my classes someday.

Posted by SD

The Film Adaptation of Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now

Being the sucker that I am for film adaptations of books I’ve read, I settled into my bed one evening not too long ago and streamed How I Live Now, directed by Kevin Macdonald and starring Saoirse Ronan.

Though the film is not the most faithful of plot and character adaptations (Osbert is omitted entirely, and a few things [spoilers excluded] have been moved around), they really captured the tone of war and loss. Because of that, the film is pretty awesome. 

Take a look at the trailer below and see if it captures your interest:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSaxm68PPT4

 

-NC

Obsessed with Dystopias: Satisfying Your Reading Needs with a Top 50 List

Dystopian Fiction is my thing. For real-sies. Some of my favorite adult novels fall under this umbrella (The Handmaid’s Tale, Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World, to name a few). I even took an elective in college entitled “Apocalyptic Literature.”

That being said, I must be out of the loop because I haven’t heard of quite of few of the YA dystopian novels that make this list. I’m super pumped the author of this blog gave a nod to Lois Lowry’s The Giver series, as it has been widely considered to be one of the first YA dystopian novels published. You might also notice that Meg Rosoff’s How I live Now was given a nice little nod as well.

So if you’re suffering from Divergent withdrawal and need something to get you through those lonely book-less nights, take a look at this list and tell me what you think.

-NC

http://www.bartsbookshelf.co.uk/2009/09/30/update-best-dystopian-ya-novels-redux/