Friday, August 7, 2009

Oh, you have to read this!

I confess I put off reading The Hunger Games. It's had rave reviews, fans are waiting on tenterhooks (this is a word; look it up) for Suzanne Collins to finish Catching Fire and its as yet unnamed follow-up. But for me, reading a book about a battle to the death between 24 teenagers seemed a bit excruciating.

I am not one for brutality.

But I finally broke down, picked up a copy, and started reading and I tell you, this book won me over.

Firstly, it is beautifully written. Each character is clearly developed, three-dimensional, and engaging. We all want Katniss to survive, just as we want her to fall for Peeta, the baker's son who once gave her a loaf of bread to keep her and Prim, Katniss' sister, from starving. Seriously: we all want Katniss to fall for Peeta...and I'm not saying anything else about that. Period.

Secondly, this is one of two books I've read recently (the other was Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac) that had a believable romance. Sure, sparks flying and the world going hazy while you look at the incredibly good-looking vampire that is trying with all his might not to kill you might make some girls swoon. But I am not one of those girls. I read Twilight for Alice. She was cool.

But The Hunger Games has real characters, believable ones that have arguments like normal people, and all that makes a romance between them more real.

And the best thing about this novel, the thing that makes me glad I bought it and didn't wait for the person who has it checked out right now to return it, is that it escapes the greatest trap in fiction: the cliche.

Have you ever read a book and said: "Wow, I think I read this before," and then said: "Oh, no, that was a different book." That is cliche. Ever heard a phrase that sounded contrived, stood out from a paragraph in a freaky way? Like: "red as blood" or "old as dirt." We use phrases like that all the time when we're talking to each other. And since I want this blog to be conversational, I use them here.

So you can really feel like I'm ranting at you. Which is my goal.

See, the problem is most people don't stand still for this kind of thing in real life. Or they think I'm frightening. And we don't need any restraining orders just because I want you to read a few good books.

Back to my earlier thought: cliche, in fiction writing, is bad. We don't like it. And in literature courses, we pick apart novels that have them and leave the stripped bones for other scavengers to sneak away when we're not looking.

And the best part of The Hunger Games is that it has no cliche. Nothing is fake, all is beautiful, interesting, fast-paced.

I never got bored. I never wanted to read something else. I never got grossed out (that kind of thing could happen with a book about a battle to the death), or wished that I didn't know about something the characters were doing or saying.

In short, this book is perfect. I mean, it's not the only perfect book I've ever read, but it is the most recent.

We're waiting for this one to come out in paperback, then this is going to be a book discussion. It might take a while.

But our next discussion, in case there is any doubt, will be Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, scroll down to take a look. I'll have scheduling details up as soon as I make up the schedule...I've got lots in the works!

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