I. Can’t. Wait.
Internet Movie Database page on The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games Trilogy fansite
Other Okie Reads posts related to the trilogy:
• End Game
A number of interesting literary items to report as we enter the homestretch to the weekend.
First up: A podcast from three Oklahoma young adult librarians that’s just perfect for Halloween. Adrienne, Emily and Karl review the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalesiter. We like the quote from the Booklist review on the Amazon.com site:
Can the chatter of the YA nerdosphere launch a successful book? This imaginative collection answers with a resounding yes. Beginning in February 2007, editors Black and Larbalestier debated zombies’ and unicorns’ strengths and weaknesses on Larbalestier’s blog, and the resulting interest roped in stories from a number of impressive authors…”
Only young adult authors and librarians could come up with this kind of stuff, and you have to admit that it’s pretty much beyond kewl!
Speaking of Zombies, AMC launches it’s new series The Walking Dead this Sunday. It’s based on Robert Kirkman‘s monthly comic book series, which is also beyond kewl! Go here for an Interview with Kirkman on the adaptation of his work to the small screen.
The Oklahoma Library Association held their biennial Mildred Laughlin Festival of Books for Young People yesterday in Midwest City. More than 100 Oklahoma youth librarians attended the event at the Tom Steed Center at Rose State College. Special guests were children’s author and illustrator Laura Vaccaro Seeger, chilidren’s author Stephen Krensky, and Tamora Pierce, author of fantasy literature for young adults. I have to tell you, I was completely blown away by Seeger’s talent, and I’m going to be getting her Lemons are not Red and One Boy books for my grandniece, Brooklyn. Also loved Krensky’s What Do You See? and I picked up a copy of that. Pierce is a big, popular talent with young people, and two of her teenage fans trekked from southeastern Oklahoma to meet their favorite author. ‘Twas a good day!
…we leave you with a slide show from The Huffington Post Blog on Nine Non-Writers Who Influenced Literary History. Who knew? You do now.
Last August, I was harping about waiting from the third installment of Suzanne Collins‘s Hunger Games Trilogy, Mockingjay. Well I’ve finally read it, and I’m not disappointed. From my previous post, you can tell how much I admire this work.
I won’t get into specifics here. You can read about the trilogy’s plot and theme in that previous post.
What’s so admirable about the work to me—beyond the imagined world, plot twists and tight writing—is the author’s uncompromising vision of the main character, Katniss Everdeen. This girl can be stubborn beyond belief, infuriating to the max, and independent to the extreme. She has a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, and has a special art for assessing a situation and then doing the most unexpected things. She also has a steady moral compass, is fiercely loyal to family and friends (the few she has), and has a problem with issues of trust. Yet all of these are the qualities that allow her to survive in a futuristic hell of devastating war and poverty.
Would she have been as believable in a third-person narrative, or a narrative with multiple viewpoints presented? I don’t think so. Throughout the trilogy, Katniss is the sole voice of the story, and we only see the action through her eyes. We hear no other character’s thoughts or can surmise no other character’s motivations. All we know is what Katniss is thinking, what Katniss is seeing, what Katniss is hearing. And as a result, we are with her, and only her, all the way to the end.
Not once did I believe Collins’ betrayed the nature of Katniss as the story progressed. The author knows this character inside and out. She is what she is. The world may change, but Katniss remains Katniss.
There be spoilers: As far as the book’s ending, let’s just say there is some controversy out there. Four Oklahoma youth librarians take sides about it on this podcast. Finish the trilogy, and then have yourself a cup of tea while you listen to their discussion about Mockingjay.
Working with youth librarians has inspired me to pick up some children’s books and young adult novels that are quite appropriate for adults as well — Neil Gaiman‘s The Graveyard Book and Suzanne Collins‘s miraculous Hunger Games Trilogy, for example. Although marketed to younger readers, they sacrifice nothing when it comes to imagination, artful writing, and expert plotting. Like all good fiction, they have plot points open to interpretation, they beg for analysis, and, more than anything, they’re fun to talk about!
A book jacket quote from the The Times in London says it’s “one of the best fantasy novels written for a long time.” I agree with “one of the best,” but I would say this is more a work of science fiction.
Incarceron takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that has picked itself back up with some unique solutions. Because of the devastation wrought by war and technology, people in the former UK live under a peculiar protocol of behavior and lifestyle (think Victorian England) in order to prevent change, technological progress and the possibility of future devastation. The idea is to create a paradise “free from the anxiety of change.” Another paradise is also envisioned: Incarceron, a prison that “could be no kinder or more compassionate (a) guardian for its inmates.”
The two worlds live apart and ignorant of each other, with each side believing the other is a paradise. This is far from the truth. Outside is stagnant, depressive and filled with dangerous political intrigue. Inside has become a downright nightmare that would be at home in a Harlan Ellison story.
Only the Warden of Incarceron knows where the prison exists, and the story revolves around the warden’s daughter Claudia and a young Incarceron inmate named Finn. The two find themselves with keys to the prison, technological wonders that allow them to communicate with each other. Scattered bits of memory convince Finn he has lived outside the prison, and he wants to escape. Claudia is convinced Finn is, in actuality, the “dead” prince Giles who was cheated out of his rightful title by her father and Giles’s conniving step mother, the Queen.
What follows is a trip of wonder, danger and surprise as Finn and his band navigate within the vast prison to find a way out, and Claudia navigates the deadly political games in the outside world. Surprise is the key word here, and readers can’t help but experience a jaw dropping moment when they discover where and what Incarceron is.
There be spoilers here: Three Oklahoma youth librarians discuss Incarceron in this podcast, and it’s a delight. Careful, though, if you’re planning to read the book. If that’s the case, better to devour this great novel, then come back and listen in on the discussion.
A Facebook friend posted a tantalizing photo on her wall the other day. It was a picture of herself happily sitting with an advance copy of Suzanne Collins‘ hotly-anticipated Mockingjay. (Yes, she was “mocking” all of us who would give our eye teeth to get our own advance read!) This sent librarians into a Facebook comments frenzy for a bit, and then the FB friend eliminated all traces of the photo and conversation. All is calm again, except 99.9999999% of us are still waiting for Mockingjay, which won’t be officially released until August 24.
Why the anticipation? Hunger Games and its sequel, Catching Fire, are the first two tomes in Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy—a science-fiction adventure aimed at young adults, but discovered and devoured by adults as well. The first book is an award-winner, has sold 800,000 copies, is available in 26 foreign editions, and has been optioned for a movie. No, we’re not talking anywhere near the success of Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight novels (and don’t even think Harry Potter territory). What we have here is a dark horse that received positive buzz online, and lots of reader-to-reader recommendations. I knew it was hot with young adult librarians, but when Chicago Tribune TV Critic Mo Ryan sent out tweets about how great and suspenseful the work was, I knew I had to give it a try myself. I’m glad I did, and now I recommend it to friends and family.
There are many reasons to love this tale: The trilogy is the story of young Katniss Everdeen, a resourceful and charismatic heroine for our time. She is steadfast and loyal, fiercely brave, and ultimately true to her convictions. Everdeen’s world is a nightmare: a despotic government keeps tight control over 12 districts that provide consumer goods to the lucky citizens of the Capitol, while residents of the districts barely survive their harsh conditions. An ultimate annual reality show pits young teams from each of the districts in a fight to the death, a ploy to keep the districts in fear and in line. But something happens when Katniss participates in the Hunger Games. She becomes a star to citizens of the districts, and a catalyst for rebellion.
Plots can intrigue, but it’s the writing that makes or breaks a book, and Collins comes through with flying colors. And so, we wait for Mockingjay—wait to have our questions answered about the rebellion and the mysterious District 13; wait to see if Katniss and her family and friends will survive; wait to get another, and final, fix of our favorite book series of the moment.
Once upon a time, there was a gay teenager in America who would not share his “secret” with anyone; not his teachers, not his friends, not his siblings, and (God forbid!) certainly not his parents. Instead, he kept this part of his identity completely to himself, waiting for the day when he met like-minded individuals, when he could finally and openly share and discuss his unique nature in this world.
Even when he was a child, before he knew he was gay, there were other boys in school who saw he was different, and they called him names and bullied him. But he hung on, because he had a loving family, because he had good friends, because he was curious, because he could read, and because he did read. His father had a collection of books and magazines about science and the natural world. His mother signed him up for a children’s book club and read to him. His sister introduced him to the world of comic books and short stories. When he became a teenager, he went to the library and investigated many things, including a natural phenomenon known as “homosexuality.”
Eventually, he grew to adulthood and finally did meet those like minded individuals. He discovered he was not alone (he always knew this) and that most people, whether straight or gay, were loving and accepting, and ready to welcome him. And he lived happily ever after.
This is not a fairy tale. (Pun most definitely intended.) It’s real, and I lived it. And it’s a story that goes on even today in our country. It’s encouraging that society is increasingly becoming more knowledgeable and understanding of human sexuality, and I know it must be much easier for many young gay teenagers today. But I also know that there is a darker story that continues to play out across the states; one where rejection by loved ones, ostracization, isolation, and hateful speech from the pulpit and the political arena can lead young people to very different ends: depression, drug and alcohol abuse, risky behavior, and even suicide.
We know that reading entertains. It educates, it inspires, and sometimes it is a literal lifeline. How many of us turn to books, be they spiritual or secular, for solace and assistance when times are tough? The intellectual pursuit of knowledge and understanding helps. Books help. I remember how popular The Lord is my Shepherd and He Knows I’m Gay, by Reverend Troy G. Perry, was with some of my crowd. It helped these people bridge the gap between their religious upbringing and the truth of their nature.
Today’s gay teenagers have a wealth of literary lifelines to explore and to help them find their place in the world. The Today Show’s website has an excellent article: Teen books with gay themes take off. The article includes a quote from a 15-year-old teen that makes me burst with joy:
“I see the characters trickling into the mainstream genres. I really like that,” Brent said. “It makes being gay feel natural, which it is, of course. Books give you hope.”
Books give you hope. It sounds like a marketing slogan for the publishing industry, yet we know it to be profound and true.
It’s Gay Pride Week in OKC. The gay pride events across the nation have always been about hope: hope that the world will change and the LGBT community will soon enjoy the same rights and freedoms as other citizens. Today, gay Americans are discovering this hope at a much earlier age.