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The Hunger Games

I was on the phone with Little Sister Pony yesterday, and she mentioned that she is just snorking down the Hunger Games books like there's no tomorrow. I have to admit that I've never felt a particularly strong desire to read them, but maybe I should. Have any of you ever read them? Are they that good? Should I swing by the library and pick one up?

In return, I'll recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It's nonfiction, but it's really good nonfiction. It's partially the story of the woman who died of cervical cancer but left behind the immortal HeLa cells that have contributed to a wild amount of scientific research, and partially the story of what happened to her family afterwards. The stories are just gripping, and everyone comes across as wonderfully human. There aren't any real villains, no one exploiting anyone for the sheer thrill of eeeeeeeeevil, just . . . garden-variety institutional racism, poverty, and miscommunication, a trio that's probably more insidious than all the mustache-twirling villains any of us could ever write.

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
jelazakazone
Dec. 12th, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC)
I liked The Hunger Games a lot. The second two were ok. I recently read Divergent which I liked better, much better, than The Hunger Games.

OMG. I LOVED The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. LOVED it. I thought Skloot was a genius. She pulled that story together in amazing ways.
frenchpony
Dec. 12th, 2011 05:08 pm (UTC)
Hmm. What's Divergent about? That could be something to get LSP for her upcoming birthday.
jelazakazone
Dec. 12th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
I suck at summaries, but Divergent is by Veronica Roth and it's about a culture that has five groups. You have to choose which group you're going to belong to for the rest of your life when you turn 16 (or you're a junior in school, or something along those lines:)). It turns out that our protagonist chooses a group even though she doesn't fit in any. It's all about her trying to figure out where she fits in, who she is, and who she can relate to.
frenchpony
Dec. 12th, 2011 07:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, dear. That sounds kind of like if junior high school lasted for the rest of your life!
jelazakazone
Dec. 12th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
I don't know. It was very interesting and compelling and I can't believe I got sucked into it and have to wait a year for the next book! It's not really like high school. It's another modern dystopian ya fiction book though.
dawtheminstrel
Dec. 12th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
I liked all three of the Hunger Games books, though I thought the middle one was the weakest.
They comment on a whole lot of pop culture.

But then pop culture commented on them too. At the time, the whole Team Jacob/Team Edward controversy was raging among Twilight fans. I read the first Twilight book, was bored silly, and was appalled that this girl's boyfriend's creepy stalky behavior was treated as love. I felt no need to read further. But the books revolve around Bella having to choose between these two romantic guys: a werewolf and a vampire. She gets married at 18 and a whole lot of other stuff happens that's a horrible message for girls.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah. In Hunger Games, there are some serious points being made about culture and war and other grim stuff. And some fans turned it into cheering for which of these two guys the MC should choose. I mean seriously. The world is being blown apart, and she's in the middle of it. Teenaged romance was not the first thing on her mind. These fans were very disappointed when the third book turned out to be about war, not Team/Team.
frenchpony
Dec. 12th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
Pop culture commentary is definitely a plus, especially if it's observant and/or properly snarky.

I will admit to having absolutely zero interest in any of the Twilight books or movies. Other than secret amusement when one of my fellow students told me how hot he found the Robert Pattinson character (who looks like a bleary, dead-eyed undergraduate who stayed up all night at a frat party the night before his midterm).
dawtheminstrel
Dec. 12th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
Snark isn't really Collins's strong point.

I seem to be missing the vampire appreciation gene.
meggins
Dec. 13th, 2011 05:14 am (UTC)
Ack! Do not call those Twilight things "vampires."
dawtheminstrel
Dec. 13th, 2011 12:29 pm (UTC)
LOL. Point taken!
gwynhyffar
Dec. 13th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
I have a Piece of Flair on my Facebook that shows a picture of Snape and says, "Vampires do NOT sparkle. 50 points from Hufflepuff."
meggins
Dec. 14th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC)
Bwah hah hah! So true.
satismagic
Dec. 12th, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC)
I found them technically well written and quite emotionally evocative, but supremely depressing.

Also, while the first book is pretty brilliant, the second is rather mediocre ... and as someone with a background in history, political sciences, and law, the third book just didn't work for me: I had the impression that the author collided headfirst with the complexity of the political and economical background of the world she created and never got back to her feet.

In terms of POV and tense (first person narrator, present tense), the first book worked quite well for me, even though there were instances when I felt it was the author's voice speaking and not the sixteen year old, uneducated character. However, in book two and three the choice of POV and tense got quite tedious, and at the end I was rather sick of the narrator, really.

Nevertheless, I think the series is well worth reading.

dawtheminstrel
Dec. 12th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I agree with Juno on all this.

I usually dislike present tense because it seems to me to be an attempt to create a kind of false intensity. But because we're not supposed to know if the MC survives the arena, I thought it was justified here. With past tense, there's always that sliver of a feeling that the narrator is looking back.
frenchpony
Dec. 12th, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC)
Ooo. First person and present tense? That . . . does not sound promising. It works for me for the duration of a short story, but it gets annoying at novel length.

Maybe I'll give the first one a try, anyway.
satismagic
Dec. 12th, 2011 06:07 pm (UTC)
I think daw is right on spot why first person/present tense works in book #1. And I'm totally with you that it can be artsy effective in short stories, but not so much in novels ... even less in a series of novels.

Oh, and I gave book #1 to my Dad to read. We talked about it today, and he was kind of put off by how bloody and grueseom the book is, but now that he's in the last third of it, he's liking it better. He asked for books #2 and #3 for Christmas. :)
frenchpony
Dec. 12th, 2011 07:59 pm (UTC)
Well, maybe I'll get the first one at the library and see how it goes.
lcohen
Dec. 12th, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC)
don't wikipedia it--i didn't realize that the summary would tell me everything that happens!
frenchpony
Dec. 12th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the warning! Duly noted. I shall stay off of Wikipedia.
gwynhyffar
Dec. 13th, 2011 02:58 am (UTC)
I read the first one in one afternoon. Absolutely LOVED it. The other two are good as well, but not as good as the first. If you like dystopia type books, you'll enjoy it.
frenchpony
Dec. 13th, 2011 05:32 am (UTC)
Well, I liked 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. I think I'll check out the first book and see how it goes.
meggins
Dec. 13th, 2011 05:20 am (UTC)
I've not read The Hunger Games...yet. The local library claims to have it; even claims to have it on the shelf, but I've not found it there yet.

Do you like to read the book before seeing the movie? If so, know that the movie version is underway now.
frenchpony
Dec. 13th, 2011 05:34 am (UTC)
I've read books after seeing the movies before, and it hasn't ever really bothered me. In fact, that was how I got into The Lord of the Rings -- Mom Pony took me to see the cartoon version as a double feature with The Dark Crystal when I was ten, and when she told me there was a book that went with it, I could not get to the library fast enough.
meggins
Dec. 14th, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
Are you talking about the Ralph Bakshi version? Which cuts off somewhere in the action of The Two Towers? Inspiration does take some strange forms.

I find that seeing the movie version of a book sometimes kills my desire to see the movie, but not always. Sometimes, seeing a movie spurs me to read a book I hadn't even thought about reading previously. So I guess it evens out in the end.
frenchpony
Dec. 15th, 2011 03:13 am (UTC)
Yes, I am talking about the Ralph Bakshi version! To be fair, I was only ten years old, and I was also watching it dubbed in German. I could only sort of follow the story, but definitely enough to know that I wanted to find out what really happened.

Edited at 2011-12-15 03:13 am (UTC)
meggins
Dec. 19th, 2011 03:59 am (UTC)
I'm not really dissing the Bakshi version. Given the tech of the time, I think there were parts that wree surprisingly sucessful. I don't know about trying to follow it in German, though!
rhobike
Dec. 16th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)
mr. rhobike just read the Hunger Games books, you can ask him what he thought.
frenchpony
Dec. 17th, 2011 04:15 am (UTC)
I may do that next week.
rhobike
Dec. 18th, 2011 03:53 am (UTC)
also he says he'd lend them to you.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )