Hungry for Fiction

Courtesy of Scholastic

Since I am not in school right now and starved for something to read other than textbooks and nonfiction support of those textbooks, a coworker offered up the three book series The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. And since I still had some Amazon gift cards left, I said what the heck, I’ll bite.

I had no idea what the books were about, just that my coworker said they were “greeaaatttt!”.  Okay.  What I failed to take into consideration was the fact that my coworker is half my age, my daughter Nenè’s age to be specific.  I guess I should have known something was up when I saw that they were printed by Scholastic.

Now, the last time I read a book that had a teenager as the center was when a friend loaned me the Twilight series several years ago and insisted I read them.

I don’t mind my vampires twinkly, but I did get rather mired in the teenage angst.  A bit vapid for my tastes, which run more toward Lestat (the non-Tom Cruise version) and Armand. So when I realized that the central character was sixteen I was a bit hesitant to dig into the storyline.

But since I was really in the mood for some reading, I bit the bullet and took a chance on the first book.

The premise sounded interesting.  The setting is a futuristic North America caught in the grips of a cruel and sadistic central ruling government referred to as the Capitol.  The country Panem is now divided into thirteen districts, twelve of which supply all the material needs of the Capitol.

In order to keep the populous under control (as if keeping most of them in a near starvation state and under the watchful eyes of official “Peacekeepers” wasn’t enough), the powers-that-be maintain a yearly televised contest, whereby one girl and boy from each district are chosen lottery style to compete to the death.  Each tribute is wined, dined and given a team of stylists before being deposited in the arena for battle.

Think The Lottery meets The Most Dangerous Game meets Lord of the Flies meets Project Runway.

The story line is pretty much the archetypical fable and fairly predictable – missing parent figure, non-parent mentor to substitute, supporting cast to represent needed virtues, a seemingly omnipotent villain to overcome.  The one additional component – teenage angst—vapid, teenage angst.  The constant overwhelming crush of emotions amid the child genocide and governmental overthrow.

Does Gale really like Katniss in that way?  Does Peeta really love her?  Why does the President hate her so?  What was the true meaning behind that kiss?  Will Katniss forgive her mother for becoming a catatonic robot when Katniss’ father was blown to bits in a coal explosion?  Will Luke really defeat Darth and find out that the girl of his dreams is really his sister?  Will Dorothy find her way home?…Oops.  But you get the drift.

There was only one twist that I didn’t see coming in the entire series and that was one scene near the end of volume three Mockingjay– I won’t be bold enough to spoil it for anyone who wishes to read the books – but honestly was that truly necessary for the storyline?  It seems extraordinarily out of place and even more contrived than anything else in the entire series.  Left a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the book, much like when John Jakes killed off Anne in the bicentennial series The Kent Family Chronicles.  Never forgave him for that one.

Lost my train of thought there…

I read all three volumes to satisfy my curiosity and my coworker.  She was astounded that I finished all three in a week.  Really?  By the time I got to the third one I was ready to be done.  No witty repartee or exciting sex scenes, nope just lots of glossed gore and emo.  I can see there being a “team Gale” and a “team Peeta” coming when the movie is released.

Ah, yes…archetypical story lines and teenage angst.  I think I’ve had my fill once more.  I’m going to write a note to keep up – “Books. Ask someone over thirty.”

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