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April Novels – The Hunger Games Trilogy

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After reading The Book Thief in March, I decided to take my friend Karen’s suggestion and try another book in the burgeoning young adult genre.  Karen loaned me her copy of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins…I ended up reading the book in just under eleven hours.

That was a Saturday.  When I returned to work Monday morning, Karen already had book 2 (Catching Fire) waiting for me.  By the time the weekend was over, I finished the entire trilogy.

Suzanne Collins has created true page turners with her Hunger Games trilogy.  I think we have all been bombarded with Hunger Games news stories for the past several weeks, and so rather than give a synopsis of the trilogy’s plot, I will simply offer some of my reactions to the story.

I think the genre’s label young adult is a misnomer.  I don’t think this genre existed when I was younger.  The phrase “young adult” always referred to someone between the ages of 18 and 24.  The current young adult literature is being marketed heavily (but not exclusively) toward 12 to 15-year-olds with stories of teenage protagonists in adult situations.

  • Katniss Everdeen (in the Hunger Games) at age 16, is responsible for feeding and caring for her mom (a single parent) and her younger sister…and responsible for being the face of the revolution that will overthrow the government.
  • Harry Potter (in the Harry Potter septology) as a teenager, eventually owns his responsibility of saving the wizarding world by going to war with the most powerful and most evil villain we’ve seen in literature in a long time.
  • Bella what’s-her-face (from the Twilight series) as a teenager, is involved in a very adult-like love triangle between two monsters (something I still don’t quite understand…maybe it would have made more sense if I actually read the book).

My point is that the success of a young adult novel seems to depend on placing a teenager in a situation that is thought to be the domain of adults.  When I first read Harry Potter, it felt like reading the stories I read as a child.  Then the series grew darker, and Harry was placed in more threatening and dangerous situations as the septology rolled along.  Could it be that other aspiring authors saw the success of their young adult stories hinging on the adult situations in which they placed their teenage protagonists?

All that being said, I think Suzanne Collins struck gold with The Hunger Games trilogy.  She hit that nerve in all of us that needs to be hit occasionally…that nerve connected to our need of a hero to lead a revolution that delivers us from the injustices occurring at the hands of corrupt officials (see The Matrix or V for Vendetta).  I was taken by The Hunger Games immediately because I love stories about revolutions.

After four novels and two consecutive months of “young adult” stories, perhaps I’ll take a break from the genre next month and read something tailored a bit more for me


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This entry was posted on April 21, 2012 by in 40 by 40, Book Reviews and tagged , , , , .

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