Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games: A "young adult" series that even adults will love

I gave up on Harry Potter halfway through the first book a great series for children, I thought to myself, but not for grown-ups. (I was wrong about that, though many of my students, who were in their twenties when the fifth book came out, were Potter fans. Years ago, I remember, one of them snapped at me in exasperation when I mentioned casually to her that Dumbledore dies in the sixth book. I had no idea at the time that she was mad about Harry & Co.)

As for Twilight, I couldn't get into it at all, probably because I don't get what people see in vampires. (Not since Bram Stoker's Dracula has anyone written a decent vampire novel, not even Anne Rice.)

I came to the conclusion that young adult novels are not for me.

Boy, has Suzanne Collins proved me wrong!

I have just finished reading Mockingjay, the third and final (sigh!) book in Collins's Hunger Games trilogy.

It was only some three weeks ago that I began the first book, The Hunger Games. As I got deeper into it, I couldn't wait to finish it and start on the second one, Catching Fire. And, then, go on to Mockingjay. The plotting throughout the series is superb and the dystopian future is evoked brilliantly. You also rush through the pages because in none of the books is there a single word that you will have to look up in a dictionary. Surely that is the hallmark of a great writer.

There were times when I was reading the books on my Kindle Fire on the bus back from work that I would forget where I was. Once I almost missed my stop. And when I discussed this with my young friend Nastassia Michael, who lives in Toronto, she said that the same thing once happened to her, too, on the subway!

The three books have been billed as young adult novels, but, really, they are for anyone who is passionate about reading, age no bar. You are sure to love, as I did, the old-fashioned story-telling skills on display in all three books.

Suzanne Collins has made her characters so believable — especially the three main protagonists: Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, and Gale Hawthorne and she has told a tale so riveting that, after having completed the series, I am now eagerly looking forward to watching the movie based on the first book next week.


UPDATE (March 28, 2012): The executive editor of Mint, Niranjan Rajadhyaksha, writes in his column today that several important economic lessons can be gleaned from the Suzanne Collins trilogy. Read the column here: "The hunger games".

UPDATE (March 29, 2012): Hunger Games, the movie, is well-made and it deserved its blockbuster opening weekend  $150 m. at the U.S. box-office in three days but the book does a much better job of describing the horrors of the savage games in which 24 young men and women are forced to fight to the death in a televised spectacle.

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