Friday, October 8, 2010

The Hunger Games

About a month ago, I finally got around to reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I don't know what I was waiting for. YA book? Check. Dystopian novel? Check. You've just described my two very favorite classifications for books. I think I was just so disgusted by the Twilight series that I lost all faith that any other popular YA books would be any good.

But I'd heard so much about The Hunger Games, and then there I was, walking through Target one day when I'd just finished my last new book in the house, and happened to see The Hunger Games on an endcap. So I picked it up. And I'm glad I did.

The writing in the book is okay...a bit rocky at times, but it's really the story that grabs hold and pulls you along.

I was a little annoyed. A few times, I've read books and said "I could have written this." This was one of those books. Both novels I've written have been near-future dystopians. Both could have been YA novels. So as I'm reading, I kept kicking myself, saying "this could have been *my* book". But here's the thing: even if I had had this idea, I would have dismissed it as too derivative. The idea of the book kind of riffs off Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, with a healthy dose of Stephen King's The Long Walk and The Running Man and throws in a touch of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series. I would have tossed out the idea in a minute.

So as an aspiring writer, I learned some very important lessons: 1) write a good story, and it really doesn't matter if it's derivative. I enjoyed all the stories I mentioned above. It should be no surprise that I liked this so much. 2) At least for readers like me, a strong engaging story is more important than perfect prose. That's very heartening as I struggle with writing "perfectly", though I find that I enjoy writing much more when I just let go and let the story flow rather than worrying about how well it's actually written.

Also, this trilogy has reignited my hope for YA fiction. I mean, so many people being in love with the Twilight series made me seriously worry for the future ;)

So if you haven't read it yet, get out there and get a copy of The Hunger Games. I really enjoyed the story--it's dark, bleak, and just the right hint of hope without being cloying or fake.

If you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you thought.


Green tip for the day: If you have kids and like to go out to eat, carry some crayons in your purse. Then turn down the crayons they give your kids--if you leave them, they just get thrown away! We only take new crayons when our old crayons get too broken or lost and we need new ones to replenish my purse-supply.