Thursday, March 22, 2012

How I Learned to Love Katniss

By Kathy F.

Before I jump into today’s post, I just wanted to make a note about how completely honored, thrilled, just plain stoked I am to join Stellar Four as a regular contributor. I usually go by my “kindle-aholic” nickname, but from here on out I’ll be posting at Stellar Four under my own name. Thanks to all of the brilliant women here who are letting me join in, and thanks to you all for reading too.

Now to the topic at hand. I have a confession to make: I just finished The Hunger Games a little over a week ago.

Sure, I’d heard about it for a long time. I even tried to read it a couple of years ago, but I never got past the train in the beginning. Katniss just felt too cold to me, and I wasn’t immediately drawn in, and let’s face it, I have LOTS of books to read on my TBR list. I put it off.

Then I heard about the movie. I was honestly meh about the idea at first because film adaptations rarely go the way that fans want them too and I knew this book had a rabid fanbase. Then there were the complaints about casting, a lackluster first clip (the one shown on MTV with Katniss walking through the forest), and I was still meh. Then the first trailer came out – and it had me at “I volunteer as tribute!”
After that, I’ve watched all of the clips and trailers and found myself really wanting to see this movie. So, it was time for a take 2 at reading the book. I started it one drizzly Saturday morning and finished it that night.

I can see why people like it. Once it got going, it really flew by and although you know what has to happen, I still felt so much tension. Of course, I did expect there to be a lot more action in the Game than we get, but still, it was worth the read and I’ll read the next ones.

While in no way did The Hunger Games create Dystopian lit, it definitely opened the door to similar themes, especially those headlined by young teenage girls fighting for survival. And the characters pretty much all start out “cold” then gradually warm up as they fight, make friends and enemies, find something to allow them to crack the wall around their emotions, so that by the end you really want them to make it in this cruel future world.

And as resistant as I was to The Hunger Games, turns out I could not resist the siren call of these other YA Dystopian tomes. Such as Divergent by Veronica Roth. Set in a city with a messed up caste system that thinks it is a Utopia, we all know that just means there is somethin’ ugly going on underneath. Our Heroine, Tris, has chosen to forsake her family’s self-effacing ways and join the thrill seekers in the Dauntless faction. Picture an extremely sheltered young girl who is taught to always cover up, never do anything that will attract attention or praise, raised for a life of quiet service to others going to live with people who do this all day:

Only in my wildest dreams could I do this.

Of course, there is lots more ass-kicking, but it does throw our girl into something she has never experienced before, and as she finds her place in this new group, I warmed up to her.

Also of note: Blood Red Road by Moira Young. This one sports an unconventional writing style (it took me 2 tries to get passed it), but once I did I found myself in a Beyond Thunderdome world with betrayals, fights for survival, powerful despots, and a loner (albeit a loner searching for her brother with an annoying kid sister in tow) being an instrument of change. Sing it, Tina!

Tina Turner – We Don’t Need Another Hero

And there is much ass kicking too, along with deadly cage fights, and even a romance. But no triangles (in case you were a teensy bit sick of those). I "got" Sabra. She is not perfect by any stretch, but I understood why and I really wanted her to make it.
It’s sometimes fun to read a book long after the rest of the world has already read it and been influenced by it. A part of me has to chuckle that it was the characters who came after Katniss that paved the way for me to finally embrace a character and book that inspired those later books. (Whether or not the authors were inspired, I can’t say. But I’m sure the publishers were inspired.) Let’s just call it the Circle of Reading.

The Lion King - The Circle of Life

And now I need to give Graceling by Kristin Cashore another shot. 
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  1. Graceling is awesome! One of my favorites. She's such a terrific conflicted independent heroine.

  2. I'm just gonna but in here and change the subject. KATHY, WE'RE SO HAPPY YOU'RE HERE! THANKS FOR JOINING US!

  3. I second the welcome! Does that mean it's now the Stellar Five? Oh, and what about the Book Pile?

    I finally read the trilogy this month myself. I think I'm glad I waited. Not only will the stories be fresh when I see the movie, but I think I needed to be in the right mindset to really appreciate them.

    Graceling I read a while ago and quite enjoyed, though I wasn't as fond of the pre/sequel Fire. I'm waiting (and waiting) for my turn to read Divergent from the library. Really looking forward to that one.

    1. We're currently deciding what method of FIGHTING TO THE DEATH we're going to use to get back down to four. (Or possibly just... not fighting to the death. It could go either way.)

    2. Ginevra - thanks and the Book Pile is still going. :) I think I probably will like Graceling more this time, too.

      Laurie - There are so many things we could do with that. Although you've been long honing your gamer skills, which could be a challenge.

    3. For the record, I vote for NOT fighting to the death. Clearly, we need to fight TO THE PAIN!

  4. Hooray, I'm glad your blog is expanding, I love reading it! Another dystopian themed series is Matched, and now Crossed. I'm going to give Blood Red Road a try now. I was on the fence. Also, Graceling is wonderful, but Fire is even better.....and yes, I've read Divergent too.

    1. I just finished Crossed, which I enjoyed, and the final book of the series is out in November — hooray!

      Inasmuch as I loved Blood Red Road and Divergent, I clearly owe it to myself to pick up Graceling, stat. My favorite librarian's been recommending it for a while now, and seeing it mentioned here has tipped me over the edge.