Book clubs are wonderful things. I am part of a small club, what I like to call “café size.” I get to meet with the girls about once a month, have a coffee, laugh, laugh, laugh, and talk, talk, talk. Eventually we even talk about the books.
Technically we are two sets of sisters, eleven daughters, eight mothers, five grandmothers, and a couple of friends. An intimate group really if you consider several of us play double or triple roles. In reality there are only eleven in the group, three of them long-distance members. Structurally loose, no member is kicked out for not having completed or even started a selection. We don’t adhere to rigid rules like including two biographies, one non-fiction, three classics, etc. into our reading lists. We have not planned any pilgrimages to Connecticut where we can wander through the Mark Twain House and Museum then pop over across the street to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. In other words, we’re quite laid back and I like it that way.
I also like the fact that a book club where majority rules, means that sometimes we each have to read a book that we would not normally have chosen for ourselves. The Hunger Games was that kind of book for me. While on one hand it sounded intriguing and I had already heard good things about it, the subject matter wasn’t such a lure for me. Kids having to fight to the death in a spectator arena set in some stark future existence was not my idea of fun. To make matters worse, I am not a big fan of series. I do not like to feel obligated to read a set of books. They are like Alfred Hitchcock movies that leave you hanging—unless you break down and read them all. Maybe I’m a free spirit, or maybe I just have book ADHD. It’s the old too-many-books-too-little-time theory.
To my great surprise though, I loved The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins! It was interesting, suspenseful, imaginative, sad, a real yank at the heart. The Hunger Games lottery where participants are chosen reminded me of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” in which the loser gets stoned to death. The entire community participates in this ritual including loving family members.
But back to the book. In the future nation of Panem, a boy and a girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen are drawn in a lottery to be participants in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is an annual competition which takes place in the capitol of the twelve existing districts. The twist is that the kids must fight to the death. There is only one survivor.
The book was an action-packed whirlwind from the beginning scenes of life in the village, to the lottery drawing, to the physical and mental preparation, and to the actual game itself. The game takes place in a controlled environment, a bubble of sorts, where the coordinators can manipulate the physical surroundings to influence participant action. I was on the edge of my seat as Katniss and Peeta pitted against each other fought for survival, then were urged on as a team, then to the surprise twist. And at the emotional end, believe it or not, I was ready for the second installment, Catching Fire, and finally the third, Mockingjay. Because the books were short and easy, geared toward a young adult audience, I wasn’t annoyed in continuing on. In fact, I was very enthusiastic. In the end I urged my husband and son to read the series, and no surprise, they both liked them.
I guess sometimes it pays to step outside your own little box. I’m glad I read The Hunger Games trilogy. I hope you will give them a try if you haven’t already. As you know, the first book, The Hunger Games, has already been made into a movie, and a good one I might add. The next movie, Catching Fire is due out sometime in November of this year, so you still have time to read it and even the third one, Mockingjay.
What about you? What book have you reluctantly read only to really like it in the end? Enter a comment or email me at email@example.com and I will post your answer.
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