Thursday, August 19, 2010

Book Hungry

When my "Twitterpack" started hounding me about a book I'd never read, a book I SWORE I'd never read, I hemmed and hawed. Then an impromptu Twitter Book Club sprang up -- officially dubbed BOOK HUNGRY now -- and I was excited. These were great ladies, ladies whose opinions about writing and books mattered to me. I said sure, that I was in.

And seconds later they gleefully sprang the first book on me: HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. The book I'd never read. The book I'd sworn to NEVER read.

"It's good," they said. "It's really, really good."

Yeah, right, that's what a zillion people say about TWILIGHT, and another equal zillion say they despise it.

The whole concept of the HUNGER GAMES -- a post-apocalyptic setting where a girl volunteers to take her sister's place in a to-the-death reality game -- gave me shivers. I don't like futuristic books. I don't like reality shows. So I was CERTAIN that I wouldn't like a book about a futuristic reality show where there could be no happy ending -- the main character would, by dent of my logic anyway, have to kill off all 23 of her fellow contestants, and what's likeable about THAT?

Still, I put the book on hold at the library, and when it came in, I picked it up. That evening, when I got in from shopping and the library at about 6:30, I heaved a sigh and started on the first page.

At 7:30, The Husband made growly noises about supper, saw I wasn't moving from the couch, and then went and slammed a bunch of kitchen cabinet doors and came back with a banana sandwich. The Kiddo asked me if it were all right if she fixed herself a heavy snack/supper. I didn't look up from the page, just mumbled, "yeah, sure."

Honestly? She could have asked if she could go rob a bank with her friends and I probably would have said, "Yeah, sure," at that point.

HUNGER GAMES is that good. It's a deep character study. A commentary on totalitarian governments. A love story. But most of all? It's flat entertaining. It sucks you in and doesn't let you go.

I shook myself loose from it once, to read to The Kiddo and get her to bed, and then I went right back to it. I finished it around 1 a.m., shut the book and heard my heart cry, "More! More!"

The main character, Katniss, is a teenage girl who has had to grow up fast to provide for her mother and her little sister. She finds herself, once she takes her sister's place, pitted against 23 other young people for her very life.

One of those 23 is a teenage boy named Peeta, who saved Katniss many, many years before. Katniss doesn't want to kill him -- doesn't want to kill anybody.

Collins makes you care for Katniss and Peeta and the locking conflict of how will both of them somehow survive keeps you flipping pages. Her characters are real and multi-dimensional. Her world-building is spot-on.

And to think I swore I'd never read this book. Why? Because of the blurb on the back and my preconceived notions and -- oh, yeah, the really biggie -- the fact that everybody said I had to read this book. I've always shied away from cult-like followings, even as far back as E.T., when I swore I wouldn't go see the movie. I didn't. My cousin and I, neither having seen E.T., would roll our eyes and say, "E.T., GO home," when we saw another merchandise tie-in.

But then we finally saw the movie when it came back to the theater in our small town for an encore performance. And we loved it and adored the ugly little alien. We finally got it, got what all the fuss was about.

And now I've finally got what the fuss is all about with HUNGER GAMES. My advice if you're a hold-out like me? Go. Read it. Now.

My fellow Book Hungry members are blogging today about their thoughts on HUNGER GAMES, and each month, we'll blog about the book our members have chosen. Check 'em out!

Karla Nellenbach
Patty Blount
Abby Mumford
Elizabeth Ryann
Kelly Breakey
Alyson Peterson
Vanessa Noble


Linda G. said...

I admit it. I HAVE been holding out--I tend to prefer funny over dystopian. But I guess I may have to finally read this...

abby mumford said...

i'm so glad you caved from our peer pressure because nothing excites me more than when someone who's SWORN never to read a book, reads it, and loves it.

your review rocks, by the way.

Patty Blount said...

Sometimes, popular opinion CAN be a good indicator of things I'll like.

Great review, Miss Cynthia!

KarenG said...

I enjoyed Hunger Games too. Actually liked it a LOT. But couldn't stand Chasing Fire. I didn't feel it lived up to the quality of the first one. So I'm not reading the series.

Kelly Breakey said...

Bravo, I don't think I could have said it better. Like you I had never read it either and was so glad that Abby strong armed, er, urged us on.

Kelly Breakey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth Ryann said...

Haha, I love that we both blogged about the unwilling trance the book puts you in. You kinda become a reading zombie and come out feeling better and stronger on the other side. Loved your review! :)

Cynthia Reese said...

Linda_G, there is indeed humor, so don't despair!

Abby, you needn't be so sadistically smug! ;-) Thanks for twisting my arm!

Patty, the trick is, when exactly will those times be??

Karen G, don't tell me that! I haven't read the second one yet!

Kelley, I was glad to know I wasn't the only holdout -- hope you like our next book just as well!

Elizabeth, the book ought to come with a warning! ;-)

Now off to read all of your blogs to see what y'all said!

Karla Nellenbach said...

Cynthia, I'm so glad you caved and read it! Have you read Catching Fire yet? I've just picked up next months selection from the library. Can't wait to read it!