Holy guacamole.

If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t blogged very much lately, it’s because not too much has happened.  Since Oita, I’ve been wiling away the hours on the internet, at the beach, alternatively planning or teaching lessons, studying Japanese, and reading.

To anyone out there who doesn’t know me very well, reading is one of my greatest pleasures.  It’s not just escape but it’s getting to know people, a good story.  It’s the social commentary and the imagination associated with these tomes.  And now, it’s something to keep me occupied in a place where there’s not so much to do.

Since the beginning of May, I’ve read five books.  Maybe six?  I think there might be one I’m forgetting (which, if there is, is very telling about whether it was good or not).  In case you’re wondering, one in four Americans will go a year without reading any books.  (How the hell do they live?)  The average American (who reads at least one book) has read seven.  In a year.  I read five.  In two weeks.

Anyway, here they are: Good in Bed, the Secret Life of Bees, Botchan, the Warlord’s Daughter, and the Hunger Games. 

All are good books, in their own way.  Aside from the one I’ll gush about for the remainder of this post, I even heaved a satisfied sigh after Good in Bed, my usual sign that the book was particularly good.

Well, the Hunger Games pretty much blew them all out of the water.

Oh my dear and fuzzy lord is it good.

Oh my dear and fuzzy lord is it good.

Seriously, if these are the types of books making their way in front of agents and editors, its no wonder my writing isn’t garnering much interest.  Holy guacamole is an understatement.  I was riveted.  I started reading it this morning at work.  I finished it right before I left.  Four hundred and fifty-four pages (granted in a large type-face) in about four and a half hours.  

Here’s the back:

Winning will make you famous.  Losing means certain death. 

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place.  Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games.  There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence.  But Katniss has been cloth to death before.  For her, survival is second nature.

This does not begin to convey the intricacies of the characterization, the world building, and the relationships you form with other characters and especially with Katniss (the narrator).  Even the fact that it’s in first person didn’t bug me (past the first two chapters).  

But what is striking above all is the theme: What is humanity?  And not just human rights, but really, what defines us as humans?  Because in the future Suzanne Collins gives us, it looks like a hell of a lot of “people” don’t deserve the title at all.

I know this book is good because of three events.  First, my heart dropped to my stomach right before Katniss is supposed to give her first televised interview as if I myself were nervous.  I was nervous for Katniss.  A girl in a book.  Holy bejebus.

And second, I nearly cried twice.  This is notable.  Exempting the Notebook, which gets me every time for some reason beyond me, I rarely cry at movies or books.  In fact, the only other book I can remember getting teared up at was Harry Potter 7, and that was only AFTER six previous books and waiting for six years to get the seventh one.  (I didn’t cry at Dumbledore or Sirius’ deaths.  I actually only died at Dobby’s, strangely enough.)

Yeah.  It was that good.

Two things though:

  1. Holy crap, what the heck do they think they’re doing over in the UK (the version I bought, I dunno about the US one) marketing this book for 11-year olds?  It was heavy for me!  Now what does that say about the maturation of our children since the introduction of television and movies?  (Not that it’s bad, I guess.  I mean, I read Catcher in the Rye when I was 14.)  
  2. I have to wait until at LEAST September to read the next one.  NOOOOO.  And then there’s another one after that.  NOOOOOO.  Why do I read series?  Tell me why!

I would love to give a more detailed review, especially about my favorites, like Rue, how Katniss will resolve her relationship issues, and just the presentation and way Collins envisioned the games, but instead I think you should just read it.  Because the surprise is one of the best parts.