This is a big deal for me since I haven’t read a book in years. It’s unhealthy, I know. I’m also aware of the contradiction of someone who writes for an online magazine not living the reader’s lifestyle with literature constantly oozing from every pore possible. To write, one must read. That’s why a few weeks ago I walked down to my local bookstore to pick up some paperbacks in an attempt to force myself back into the habit.
Or maybe I just wanted to see what all this Hunger Games hype was about.
The movie debuted back in March, and I found myself clinging to the dystopian descriptions of the story about a future that has been sullied by war and government oppression. I don’t think I even knew the formal definition of “dystopian,” but I knew that it was something I wanted in my life in the form of a fictional teen novel. So I put on the front of being a well-read Uptownite and made my way to Magers and Quinn to buy myself a copy.
I have to admit, being 28 years old and buying a single copy of teen literature is kind of like buying tampons at Target; I have to purchase something alongside it to make it less obvious. After grabbing a copy of Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants and the bible that is Anna Karenina, I included The Hunger Games in my small library and checked out with an excitement to experience a page-turner that I haven’t felt since 2008.
And a page-turner it was. After going home and reading the book in its entirety, I have to say it was everything I thought it would be. The characters were likable and multifaceted. Their environments were easily imagined but not over-described. And the food … Don’t read this book if you’re hungry. I know it’s obvious with a title like The Hunger Games, but most of Suzanne Collins’ description goes into both the utter starvation and incredible feasts the main characters experience. It is dystopia at its best, if you ask me. The characters’ constant struggle to barely maintain their existence, even in what is to be considered the comfort of their own homes, is excellently portrayed and let me fall into the story within the first page.
Probably the most interesting part of the book is the real time in which all its events take place. Our heroine Katniss tells her entire story in a present tense that is so consistent, I found myself feeling as if I was by her side the whole time. From the moment she wakes to another day of hunting in order to feed her starving family, to the terror that reigns in the playing field of the official Hunger Games, I had a front row seat to this extraordinary teenager’s thrilling experience. This isn’t to mention the myriad of playful and colorful characters that accompany her throughout her journey. Every page leaves you wanting more. Maybe this is why I was able to finish the entire novel in one day.
I also was probably able to finish it in one day because I’m an adult woman who was reading a book designed for the 15-year-old mentality, but who’s keeping track of reading levels at this point?
All in all, I feel like I was able to finally get back into reading with a whirlwind adventure that is complete with action, emotion, and description. The Hunger Games may be designed for a high school mindset, but I think the themes that play throughout are applicable to a broader spectrum, and that is why this story has gained so much popularity. A constant struggle to scrape by and go on to succeed that is fueled by the love, passion, and accountability one has for their family and friends is a concept many of us can identify with.
And I’m totally prepared to see the movie. In fact, when I was reading the book, I’d take breaks periodically to check out any stills I could find online (taking great care not to give away any major plot points in the process). I have yet to see the film, but I feel like I already know how I’ll feel about it afterwards: the movie was good, but the book was better.
The book is always better.
So now I venture on with reading paragraphs of Bossypants every week. Maybe I’ll finish it before summer strikes, and if I do, don’t doubt that Tolstoy and his famed socialite are next. I’ll be back in the reading game before I know it … hopefully. The Hunger Games helped me get back on the playing field.
Samantha Veldhouse is the Arts & Entertainment editor of Secret Laboratory. Originally from rural North Dakota, she went to school for literature and writing at Bemidji State University, but fell into the theater community while she was there. After graduating with a BA in English, she moved to Minneapolis where she has been known to tap into Twin Cities theater performing with the Brave New Institute and Huge Theater; she also produces independently with the Minnesota Fringe Festival. When Samantha isn’t creatively displaying herself on stage, she’s documenting her life on her blog at http://www.intheveldhouse.blogspot.com. She currently works as an Academic Advisor at Capella University and lives in her trusty uptown studio with her laptop.
E-mail Ms. Veldhouse at email@example.com.