Monday, August 23, 2010

Confessions From a 'Hunger Games' Virgin

It took me a long time to finally succumb to buying ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins for several reasons.

I’m not a huge fan of terror, suspense, violence, or gore.  If I’m completely honest, I don’t like intense drama either.  It’s not that I’m shallow (well, for the most part).  It’s just that, with an imagination like mine, it’s in my best interest (and my family’s) that I stay away from that sort of thing. 

I know it’s not real.  My husband tells me over and over whenever he gets me to reluctantly sit down in front of a violent movie. 

But to me, it could be real.       
                    
I can’t stand gore movies that involve torture and kidnapping or rape.  It might not be really happening behind the screen, but I can’t help thinking that somewhere it is happening, has happened, will happen again.  And that thought alone kills my enjoyment and I end up finding the whole act of sitting down to watch a simulation of the worst our society has to offer….a bit warped.  Ok, very warped.

In most cases, I end up covering my ears.  Don't ask me why.   In tense situations, it’s just my first instinct - whether it’s a suspenseful scene in a movie, or the rival football team is about to score a goal on ours, or our car comes close to being sideswiped (which, driving in France- happens quite often).  My hands just rush to cover my ears like that alone will change the direction of things.

During all of the above, my husband has to turn towards me and ask “Why do you do that!!??”  Otherwise, I don’t realize I’m doing it and my hands will stay up for however long until I calm down.

After watching the ‘Sixth Sense’ I saw dead people everywhere.  Not really, but I imagined what it would be like to see them in the minutest detail until my whole body would quake in fear.  Dead girl in the headlights.  Dead old lady in the back seat who smells like cigarette smoke.  Dead guy behind the shower curtain about to push his face against it; his mouth in the form of a terrible ‘O’ (are you getting my drift here?). 

And when I read or watch a movie that’s too emotionally charged, I replay it over and over in my mind, trying to find a way out for the poor tragic fools who ended up dead or separated.  “Revolutionary Road” had me depressed for days.  Ok, fine, weeks.

So, when I read the premise for ‘The Hunger Games’, I was reluctant.  A future where kids ages 12-18 are thrown into hostile territory to battle it to the death? Yuck!

But, no matter where I looked, someone was talking about the book.   I started to wonder if I wasn’t just being a big baby.  SO, I finally gave in and ordered it.   Even when it came in, I read the first page and put it down. 

Poor hungry dirty people…A little girl with an ugly cat…Food shortages…something called a reaping? Like the grim reaper?.  I could feel the dark grey tension clawing at my gut from the word ‘go’.  So I put it down thinking “Um.  Nah.  I’m not really in the mood for this right now.  I want to float on a cloud of happiness and glee.  Lemme go see if Meg Cabot has anything new…”

But Saturday I broke down and read the whole thing, finishing it yesterday.  By the second page I was hooked and by the 2oth page I was completely emotionally involved.  That said, it made me think about how a writer can pull you in and make you read even if you aren’t thrilled about what’s happening.

 I simply couldn’t. put. it. down.

That’s not to say it became my favorite book ever.  There were a few things that threw me.  First of all, I couldn’t pronounce her name in my head.  Between the ‘Catnip’ and ‘Katniss’, it always ended up ‘Katsip’ when I saw the word.  Like ‘would you like some ‘Katsip’ on your hotdog?’

And there were lots of long passages where we’re stuck in her frantic-survival-mode mind that kept reiterating the same things.  Over and over again. Every chapter.  I found myself skipping over those after a while to get to the good stuff.

I often hear of an agent taking on a client because of the story they tell and not necessarily the brilliance of their writing.  And now I realize that it can also work in the opposite way.  A story expertly told can hold you in its grip even if you don’t necessarily want to see it through for whatever reason.  In any case Suzanne Collins spun a wonderful web and despite my prior hang ups, I was caught up from start to finish. 

Now, I can hold my head high and face the world knowing I am no longer a ‘Hunger Games Virgin’.

Ever any books you were reluctant to read but ended up thoroughly enjoying?

**CONTEST ALERT**

Note to Self is giving away copies of the 'Hunger Games' trilogy, including 'Mockingjay'!- contest ends Aug 24th

Angels and Demons and Portals, Oh my! is giving away a pre-ordered copy of 'Mockingjay'.

Carolina from 'Carol's Prints' is having an amazing '10 ARC Giveaway Contest'

Sarah McGlung from 'Babbling Flow' is giving away signed copies of 'Shiver' & 'Linger'




35 comments:

Ted Cross said...

You remind me of my wife, who basically wants to watch nothing but comedies or light dramas. It drives me nuts, because I love all sorts of movies, yet I can hardly ever watch what I want.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I'm not one for scary movies but I love the HG books. Glad you finally lost your HG virginity. :)

I held off reading HP for ages, due to the hype, but my cousin convinced me to give it a go. :)

Laura Pauling said...

I read HG, but I have not read Catching Fire. I thought HG was really good and I read the whole thing, and I'll eventually read the second and third. I just didn't get caught up in the whole frenzy. But that's more about me and what I love to read. It totally deserves the attention it's getting. :) Movies stay with me too. I can't watch certain movies b/c I know I'll be depressed for days.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That isn't a series that interests me, but not because of the situations.
I watch a lot of movies with gore and violence, but I prefer to avoid those with rape and extreme torture. (I'm not into 'torture porn' such as the Saw movies.) Guess I'm lucky that my wife likes most of the same types of movies, too.

Joy Tamsin David said...

I was a virgin until this week too. The book description held absolutely no interest to me. Not my cup of tea at all.

But this week I finally broke down and read it because of all the talk on the book blogs I follow. Just finished Catching Fire this weekend. I'll be at the bookstore first thing Tuesday morning for Mockingjay.

India Drummond said...

I laughed when I got an image of you hiding behind the couch during a scary movie. I don't mind scary books, although I like crime/mystery/thrillers, but not horrors.

I can't watch scary movies, but they're fine if I turn the sound off! It's actually the music and sound effects that frighten me.

salarsenッ said...

Thank you for sharing this. I've been apprehensive about reading the series, too. I have the first two books. I guess I'll need to set more time aside--yeah right--to read them. I have so much to read, right now.

Izzy G. said...

I don't mind scary/violent/depressing books, but I'm horrible with movies. You know the movie The Fourth Kind? The totally fake one about alien abduction? I knew it was fake, I knew it the whole time I was watching the movie, but it still scared the bejesus out of me for an entire month. As in, I had spend half an hour working up the courage to sprint from my room to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Anyway, I gave you the Lovely Blog Award over at my blog :)

Renae said...

Good for you on breaking down and trying the series. I for one hate scary movies. Blood and guts? So not my thing. But I love The Hunger Games. I was like you, hooked after the first page. Thanks for sharing! I always love to hear the reactions everyone has when they embark on a new series!

Christine Fonseca said...

I almost didn;t read Going Bovine...nothing about it seemed interesting to me. Until I read it. LOVED IT!!!

Slamdunk said...

Good topic.

Hmmm, I'll go the complete opposite of death and gore and say that I have read a few of Jan Karon's Mitford series and even with no shootouts or explosions, she offers an entertaining book about small town life.

Jaydee Morgan said...

I had to laugh at your descriptions of yourself watching scary movies - that's what an over-active imagination will do to you ;)

Glad to hear you read Hunger Games - and enjoyed it!

Tamara Narayan said...

I have no interest in movies that feature gore with no story ala Final Destination. But I did like The Ring because there was an actual story to the movie.

For a long time, I ignored the buzz on The Help, because I thought it was some self-help, spiritual thing. Then I found out it was actually about what black maids in the sixties went through and read it in two days--awesome.

Matthew Rush said...

I stopped halfway through because you started talking specifics, and I plan to read these books someday, but you are too funny! Covering your ears, that's an interesting coping mechanism.

I don't enjoy gore movies either, but I can watch them, and I don't mind violence as long as it is integral to a good story.

Hart Johnson said...

You crack me up, you big baby! teehee. I don't like GORE at all... really graphic violence is not my thing. Horrible stuff though, left to the imagination a little more... (book violence or violence where what we see is the person SEEING it, rather than the actual thing) I can live with, and I LOVE suspense and psychological horror.

I wasn't so much thrilled with Collins' WRITING as her perfect characterization. I think she really nailed ALL of them so that they are flawed but sympathetic... so the reader feels the internal struggles and deeply CARES what happens to everyone, then she put them in serious enough situations, that we kept being pulled forward. So in THAT way, the writing was BRILLIANT (it overcame my aversion to present tense which nearly always bugs the crap out of me)

Candyland said...

You're hilarious. I saw dead people for awhile too. You're not alone.

LTM said...

LOL! umm--YES! These books as a matter of fact. I was the same way as you--not sure I can read that... AND had the exact same reaction. (you read my review, right? Catching Fire's even better, btw... ;o)

For me it's easier to deal w/book violence, though, b/c you can *not* picture it in your head, right? ;o)

Anne R. Allen said...

I have avoided the Hunger Games books for the same reason. Maybe I'll reconsider. I think the way you react to gore-fest films/books has to do with your level of empathy. If you have a lot, you're not going to enjoy watching people tortured. You're going to feel their pain.

I have a super-empathetic nephew who at age six asked to leave a Home Alone movie. "He's being too mean to the bad guys" he said. "I don't like him any more."

But other people consider other people's suffering light entertainment. The contemporary equivalent of gladiatorial combat, I guess.

Hunger Games comments on that rather than glorifying it, I think.

Kathryn said...

I keep hearing about these books and I've put them on my Goodreads.com "To Read" section, but I'm the same way. The premise is pretty creepy... how could it be such a powerful read? But I'll check it out sometime!

Old Kitty said...

I'm caught between loving good horror flicks and books (Stephen King, Zombie films by Romero etc) and not looking at the gory bits or hiding behind my hands hoping the scene/passage will go away! LOL!!

Thanks for the fair and honest review about this book!

Take care
x

DL Hammons said...

I picked up and started reading HG yesterday for one reason and one reason only...to see if it is worth the hype. The premise isn't something I would normally go for, but I had to see what everyone was talking about. I'm still early on...so no opinions either way yet.

Teenage Bride said...

OMG I cannot do any sort of horror, terror, or suspense. I have a difficult time seperating fantasy form reality when i get scared haha

Shelley Sly said...

I still haven't read The Hunger Games. I can't stand gore and violence either, but that's not the reason why. I think I just haven't taken the time to pick it up. But now I want to! Thanks for this review!

Lenny said...

hi miss katie! wow you sure got a lot of things that could scare you. yikes! that shower curtain guy is really scary for sure. i glad you sorta got past it so you could read that book. so now you could be proud of yourself.
...smiles from lenny

Susan Fields said...

I guess I'm the exact opposite - I probably should take movies and books more seriously, but usually they make no impact on me and I've forgotten them as soon as I walk away. But not with The Hunger Games. I'm still obsessing over that. I won't go into detail here in case anyone reads this that hasn't read the book, but I thought the way she ended the first book, making an impossible situation somehow possible, was one of the cleverest plot twists I've ever seen. I loved it, and I'm sure I'll have my nose buried in Mockingjay all day tomorrow. :)

Kelly Dexter said...

I lost my Hunger Games virginity just last week! Like you, I was feeling way out of the loop and had to jump in. While there were a few things I had some issues with, overall I really enjoyed it and am very much looking forward to reading the next installments.

Vicki Rocho said...

I am just like you when it comes to violence/drama. No thank you. Gimme the light, the airy, the hilarious. I do not need to weigh my soul down with the blech society has to offer.

But...I'm curious. Everyone is talking about this series. And I have yet to succumb. We'll see how much longer I can hold out...I may be the last Hunger Games virgin (thanks for deserting me...)

LOL

Vatche said...

Hey, Katie!

I know how you feel when you aren't ready for a book, because I feel the same way and it's not only with books but also movies, TV, or manga (Japanese comics).

There's just a certain time when I know I'll be ready to read what I need to read. So, I'm glad that you enjoyed The Hunger Games; I have yet to read it myself, but I will when I'm ready!

Write on and read on!

Medeia Sharif said...

Aliens scare me the most, but I can pretty much watch or read anything else.

I haven't read my copy of The Hunger Games yet. I'd like to fit it in before the end of the year.

baffledqueen2 said...

I didn't read it all, but why do you torture yourself? Better yet, why do you let others torture you? I asked myself a couple decades ago, why did I watch that movie? I couldn't find one damn good reason. That was the last horror movie I ever watched. Besides, why manifest that crap into your life? WHY?

Zoe C. Courtman said...

That makes me the last remaining HUNGER GAMES virgin, then. Shall I succumb? Sigh. You know it.

Grammy said...

Hi, Haven't heard of the book you mention, but I am a murder mystery junkie! I absolutely love a good murder mystery and have read thousands in my life time. Just can't help myself. Am not a real fan of the Macabre like Stephen King writes. I watch Criminal Minds every once in a while, but sometimes it is just too violent graphically. Thanks for your support over the past months. Ruby

T.J. Carson said...

Ha, you know... you would make a great writer lol. Active imagination and everything :P haha so missed you and your blog mucho!!!!!! Your reaction to intense movies made me laugh, but I can understand how you think, my mom is similar and always gives me nasty looks when i show her movies like that. But glad you enjoyed the hunger games, I heard it was good. I'm still a virgin in that area, haha. But I'd have to say that I was reluctant to read Twilight, because (like you have an aversion to violence) I have an aversion to love stories. And I kinda got over the vampire fad before it even started. But I ended up loving Twilight, the first book anyway. I wasn't as enticed as I was by the first.

Ted Cross said...

@Anne Allen -- I disagree that it relates to the level of empathy that a person has. I have an enormous emount of empathy, so much so that I have had people suggest that I have too much. My kid have gotten the empathy bug from me also. Yet, I love every kind of movie, including horror.

So, I think it really has more to do with the mind's ability to truly draw a divide between reality and fiction. I know no one is being hurt in any movie, so I view it as pure entertainment. To me it is like writing, in that I cannot stomach the idea of people being butchered with swords, yet I can enjoy imagining such scenes as I write them.

Some people, such as my wife, cannot fully separate the reality from fiction.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I didn't think The Hunger Games was my kind of book, but I finally bought it at the beginning of the year and fell in love with it. I can't wait to read Mockingjay. :D

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