Saturday, January 07, 2012

The first book I completed this year...

So, I thought the first book I’d post about this year would be The Story of Beautiful Girl, but I’m not quite done with that one. Today was a double-book-club-meeting day, so I had to pause in my reading of it to finish up two books that were both re-reads for me. One of them, for the teen book club I co-lead at our neighborhood library, I decided to skim and read about online, since I’d just re-read it this spring with Skye. (A Wrinkle in Time: What a fun book to share with her! She really identified with Meg, and enjoyed the tesseract concept.) The other one was for our mother-daughter book club, which was supposed to meet this evening, but was postponed due to illness of the hosts, much to Skye’s chagrin.

This was my third reading of The Hunger Games. I read it when it first came out, requesting a library copy and plowing through it when I got it, sending it on to the next person in line after just a few days. (I love it when I can do that!) I’d read about its premise and was skeptical; I expected to be horribly offended and repelled. How could anyone enjoy such brutal speculative fiction? But, on a friend’s reassuring recommendation (“Trust me. It’s really amazing.”), I gave it a try. As I watched the whole spectacle unfold with bated breath, I marveled at how Suzanne Collins had me gaping at the whole thing just like the citizens of the Capitol. I *was* offended and repelled, but I was also hooked and dazzled. Very impressive storytelling.

My second reading came when, preparing for the release of Mockingjay, I decided to refresh my memory by re-reading books 1 & 2. As I reviewed, I noticed more details about the characters, as well as the foreshadowing techniques Collins uses.

This third reading came sooner than I thought it would. Skye is a sensitive soul. Being twelve years old, she’d heard plenty about The Hunger Games trilogy, but had no real interest in it. She told me her friends were raving about how great it was, but that she thought she’d wait awhile before giving it a try. When one of the moms in our mother-daughter book group asked if it would be okay to read this one for our next book, I checked with Skye, and she decided she was open to reading it.

We made it through, and she didn’t hate it! That was my goal. After the first scene in the arena, she did have some bad dreams, so the next day we decided to try a different strategy. I’d describe to her the sensitive, intense scenes, and she’d read all of the other stuff. And I was surprised at how much she could read without a problem. Collins does such a nice job telling the story of the monstrous Hunger Games. Katniss is a wonderful main character, and Skye could relate to her anger, confusion, and sadness. She cheered her on and shook her fist at the Capitol.

Today at Teen Book Club, Skye shared her thoughts about the book, and it was interesting to hear what others thought, too. One teen said she’d read the trilogy because she’d enjoyed Collins’ Gregor the Overlander series so much. She liked Hunger Games, but thought Gregor was better. Another teen gave it a try when her friends were all telling her she’d love it. She quit after 50 pages; the writing wasn’t as strong as she’d expected, it reminded her of a friend’s writing, and she found herself wanting to read her friend’s stories instead. The other co-leader read it but wasn’t as impressed as she expected to be after hearing all the hype. The librarian and I were the two who liked it best, and we both read it when it first came out, before it became THE HUNGER GAMES. We really loved it. Interesting how our expectations can color our experience with a book.

Skye hasn’t asked about the next book in the trilogy, and I’m fine with that. I hope that someday, when the hype has calmed down and she’s older, she will pick these books up again and experience them the way I did the first time. If she wants, I’ll read them along with her, and we can both cheer for Katniss and rage with her.

15 comments:

Rebecca Ryals Russell said...

I read Hunger Games when it first came out and considered it well-written and original. But, like Skye, I never read the rest of the books. Somehow I just didn't care enough about what happened, plus I have limited time available for reading and try to spread it out. One day I'll go back and read it again, I'm sure.

Carrie Monroe said...

Glad to hear you and Skye read this together and that she enjoyed it. It is good to hear about parents reading books along with their kids.

Michelle said...

Thank you for reviewing this one Caryl! I have been curious about The Hunger Games for some time now, but you can never be quite sure if the hype is all hype, if know what I mean. My concerns were similar to yours, but having heard your vote of confidence, I'll be sure to add this to the stack!

Alice@Supratentorial said...

Good review. I haven't read this yet. I've kind of thought of waiting until I can read it with my oldest. I didn't realize she as also the author of Gregor the Overlander, another series I've had on my TBR radar for awhile.

Tara said...

Hunger Games is not for every kid - even though there seems to be quite a bit of peer pressure to read it (everyone seems to have a copy in hand at our middle school!). But, when the time is right, most kids go get caught up in the amazing storyline and want to read all three books. The trick, I think, is to go at the kids' pace.

Storied Cities said...

I have never read the Hunger Games but I am very curious to read it now.

Susan Tipton said...

My dds read the Hunger games this Summer and loved it, but it was almost too much. Just this week two of them started the second one. I think they just had to let Hunger games incubate for awhile.

chereemoore said...

My initial reaction to The Hunger Games was the same as yours, but I am glad that I finally started reading the trilogy - it really is a page turner.

Also, I loved reading A Wrinkle in Time (even as an adult).

Charlotte said...

I was anxious about my own son (11) reading it this year...but he made it through without much anxiety. He then started the second...but wasn't enamoured with it.

I gave this to my mother as a Christmas present the year it came out, and she stayed up till three in the morning reading it in one sitting.

Book Dragon said...

I started it but got sidetracked and haven't gone back to it. Not sure now because of the hype.

Lots of hype for another, ahem, "sparkly" book and I hated that one. thinking HG is better and I do own all three....Trying again this year.

Caryl said...

Hooray for the comment challenge and 52 Books challenge! Thanks to all of you for stopping by. :)

For those of you who haven't read it yet, I hope you enjoy it when you do. As you saw, the key (according to my informal survey ;) ) is probably to go in with low-ish expectations. Try to picture Suzanne Collins writing it, before she knew how big a sensation it would be. And for kids, as in Tara, Susan, and Charlotte's (and Skye's)examples, going at their own pace is I think essential to their enjoyment.

Skye and I both read the first Gregor the Overlander book and loved it. I think she was in sixth grade when she read it, and I read it with a fifth grade book group. I hope to read all five of those someday.

Book Dragon, when my SIL got caught up in the sparkly books, this is the one I encouraged her to read as an antidote.

Darksideblugrss said...

I've been meaning to read these and now that I have a challenge I guess I will have too and glad to hear you got to discuss it in that type of setting.

Caryl said...

They are definitely worth a read, Darksideblugrss!

DHooper said...

I absolutely loved this book... and the series. I recommended it to a lot of my high school students who were reluctant readers and it got them hooked on reading. I did feel Book 1 was the best and they continued in order with Mockingjay being my least favorite, but they were good enough to keep me interested all of the way through.

Caryl said...

DHooper, thanks for posting! I'm glad you (and your students) enjoyed the series. I liked the second and third books a lot; I wasn't sure how Collins would wrap up the series, and I was glad to see she kept it quite realistic in terms of what changing a society like that would involve. I also appreciated that she didn't wrap things up neatly with a "happily ever after" feel. But book three was the hardest one for me to read, and they were all pretty emotionally draining! I love the character of Katniss.