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?
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'