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My reading material/Hunger Games

November 19, 2010 - Jennifer Brookens
This week, I'm following suit of some of my other co-workers' blogs and trying to answer the question of, "Read any good books lately?"

Truth is, being a full-time reporter and mom, my reading usually consists of a) my researching, writing, editing and re-writing on a daily basis or b) reading (and re-reading) bedtime story favorites like "Pinkalicious," and "Airy Fairy," or reciting "Goodnight Moon" to my son since he's managed to destroy two copies of his favorite book so far. So reading for my own pleasure is a rare treat. But there are a few series I make room for. Each June, the latest in the Stephanie Plum series is released, and I usually pounce on that within the first week or so and manage to devour it in a day or two. They are usually an easy-read mystery, with lots of zany recurring characters that keep you reading onto the next chapter.

But during this summer's road trips (the only chance I have to read uninterrupted - unless I hide) I got hooked on "The Hunger Games," by Suzanne Collins. While some people are trumpeting it as "the next Twilight," there is more of a social/political message instead of merely a star-crossed romance. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the North American continent is now a country called Panem, and is controlled by a cruel Capitol city hidden someplace in the Rocky Mountains. The rest of the land is split up into 12 districts, which are kept dirt poor, and the industries in these districts are set up to serve the Capitol. Along with these districts serving the Capitol, as punishment for a long-time ago rebellion, each year the districts are required to each send one boy and one girl (ages 12-18) to "The Hunger Games," a horrifying Battle Royal mixed with reality TV, where only one child survives. "The Hunger Games" is required viewing for the entire country of Panem.

Our heroine is Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old in District 12, the poorest of the districts. Katniss lost her father in a coal mining accident when she was young and has become a skilled hunter to help her family survive. The series begins when Katniss's younger sister's name is drawn for the Hunger Games, and Katniss volunteers to take her place. The boy drawn from District 12 is Peeta, who has had a longtime crush on Katniss, and once gave her two burned loaves of bread when her family was starving, despite punishment from his mother.

While the books are violent with the many deaths, the series is considered a young adult series, and is not too gory. The love story also doesn't go beyond a PG rating. Yet it is a riveting series for adults as well, as the series brings Katniss from being a girl with some strong survival skills to being the face of rebellion against the Capitol in "Mockingjay," the third and final part of the trilogy.

This series was rare in the fact that I found myself picking up the book and re-reading parts of it after I was finished. I found myself thinking about the series days, even weeks after I'd finished reading. After finishing "The Hunger Games," I found and read the second book, "Catching Fire" while I was still on vacation, and bought "Mockingjay," as soon as it was released. I've lent these books to my mother and some of my reading friends, and they also reported the scenario remained in their minds long after they read the last page.

Work is being done on "The Hunger Games" movies, and there is buzz about what actors/actresses will be cast. All I can find myself hoping is that it does Not become "another Twilight," when there is potential for so much more.


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