This is a book report on why I should listen to my friends. They have been telling me and telling me I should read the Hunger Games books, and kept telling them, yeah, but I have this big stack of impressive books written by people I know from Sewanee, not to mention this D.H. Lawrence novel and this long line of library research on subjects like the Asian Exclusion Act and What Corpses Do in Water and Popular Hair Styling Methods of 1927, so I probably just won’t get around to it. Aren’t-there-just-always-too-many-good-books-and-too-little-time? Yes, it’s true, there are, but that was no excuse for not listening to my friends.
Finally, one dark night when I couldn’t deal with this artsy novel about screwed-up relationships I was attempting, I picked up my brother’s copy of The Hunger Games. (Side note — he had not actually read it either, because he doesn’t often sit down to read whole books. Aidan, I know you’re reading this: get the fricking thing on CD already. You’ll like it.) I started reading. And I was gone.
I realize I am probably preaching to the choir, as I may be the only person besides my brother who has not read these hotcakes. I may also be preaching to the disenchanted ones who didn’t like these books. Oh well. I have some things to say.
First, this lady knows how to write a plot. But beyond that, this is one of the most interesting and resonant explorations of speaking truth to power I have read in a long time. And of being human in an inhuman imperial culture. And of wealth disparity, war, and loving more than one person. This is a heck of a lot more relevant to my world than, say, abstinence-promoting vampires. Not to mention it’s written by someone whose sentences I can read without cringing. It made me squirm even as I could not put it down, as I watched myself be entertained by the violence-as-entertainment — the Hunger Games — that act as both a repressive force and as the nation’s main pastime in the story. It felt very close to home.
Last, all of you friends — and there are a lot of you — who write post-apocalyptic fiction, use this as your bestseller-inspiration and please write us some more. And meanwhile, I will take your advice and get around to those Dragon Tattoo books.