I didn't want to read this book. I glanced at the plot and said, ew, dystopia about kids who fight to death on national TV. Morbidly depressing.
I looked at it again a few months later. Same reaction. Repeat for a year.
Then, yesterday, I suddenly decided that I was going to read The Hunger Games. I'm not entirely sure why, but for some reason, I decided, and that was that. No libraries had a copy, so I bought one. Now it will probably sit on my shelf for the next five years because I won't have the heart to sell it.
This book was an ordeal. Not a bad experience (obviously, as I gave it 5 stars), but it put me through the emotional wringer. It was gripping, well-paced, and I liked the heroine even though she was often unlikeable (actually, that may have contributed). Katniss came across as cold and calculating at times, but it worked in her situation.
It's very strange: I don't usually give 5 star ratings to books I don't intend to read again. They're reserved for my very favorites, which will be reread at least once a year for the next five years, maybe more, and lovingly doled out to friends and family as presents. I will not be giving this book to any of my family because they wouldn't like it. It's too dark.
At the same time, I wouldn't change a thing about it. The pacing was excellent. The character development worked nicely. The dialogue sounded natural, and best of all, Katniss Everdeen is a teenage girl who does not need to be rescued. She saves herself and others over the course of this book, works with people when she can, and tries very, very hard to stay focused and ahead of the events unfolding around her.
I love the hell out of that character. She was spunky, and what she represents, in a media storm of pretty young things waiting to be rescued by a prince, or the endless sea of T&A out for a good time with the manchild hero, or the tightly-wound Type-A who needs to get perfect ACTs before her caffeine IV runs out or her life is ruined
(only to be shown the light by the slacker boy in her gym class). Here is a character who is actually self-sufficient, who makes mistakes, then learns from them, and who is operating within a system that tells her she is ugly, worthless, and merely a cog in a meat-grinding machine. Who is not beautiful, nor does she coast by on the beauty she wasn't aware she had, and doesn't particularly care because there are just more important things to concentrate on at the moment.
Thank you, Illinois 8th grade required reading material, for introducing the two of us. I don't know that I'd have been as interested if all 80 copies hadn't been checked out of three different libraries, with holds on the first 42 returned. Usually at that point, I want to know what the fuss is about.And what a nice change of pace, to have a girl be allowed to have an adventure in which she participates in the action and isn't magically amazing at everything she does
That said, I'll not be rushing out to the library tomorrow to hunt down a copy of the next book. I'll probably read it at some point, but I feel like I need to go read something more cheerful beforehand. Normally, I read a first book I really like, and I have all the sequels before I've even finished the first. However, I'm afraid to OD on these lest I start making way too many metaphoric connections to our current societal state and depress myself right before Christmas.