Roadtrip Wednesday # 102: What was the best book you read in October?
This is no contest. Ever since I read this book, no book after it holds a candle. Last month it was Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith, and this month it's...
That's right. It pulled me in too. Hard. In my September post Don't Diss Dystopian I asked blog readers to recommend a dystopian YA that would change my mind about dystopian novels. And everyone recommended this book. I'd already heard of it online and by word of mouth, but I hadn't read it. I promised to do a review after reading it, but things kept coming up to postpone that review. Now YA Highway has given me a wide open door. I also promised to link to the blogs of those who recommended this book to me, and there were a few. You'll see those links at the end of the review. Here goes!
I found Hunger Games to be a thrilling read. Its set in a bleak future where the government controls life and sustenance for twelve districts, keeping them under a rigid thumb. But in the midst of starvation and hardship, there is Katniss. A determined, spirited girl, hardened by the grim, survivalist lifestyle thrust upon her at a young age. She wasn't always my favorite of female protagonists, but she certainly was her own. Her voice never wavered, and her perspective carried the book along at a spurring clip.
At first I was unsure about diving into a reality where pre-teens and teenagers fight to the death for a protected life for their families. It's a barbaric thought, but one that makes sense in Katniss' world. That's the thing about dystopian books, and one reason I am wary of them. They're just so doggone bleak, so negative, so gray and dismal. The worlds in them are like ashes in a firepit that've gone cold, but this book brought a hot little ember of hope to those ashes.
Yes, fire analogies. They kept cropping up in the book. Katniss, was, after all, "the girl who was on fire". I'm not spoiling it anymore than that. I thought the fire references were a nice touch, and they highlighted the theme of passion, life, and survival that was Katniss' story.
Because this story was like Gladiator, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and a very spirited round of paintball, it kept a good pace from the beginning. (Did I mention it was also a reality tv show?) The story didn't lag anywhere, even in the first chapters where Katniss was describing her life and current circumstances. I also didn't hate the first-person perspective, because Katniss wasn't a personality that grated on my nerves. She wasn't gorgeous, she was tough, she had flaws, she had a thick skin, she was vulnerable, she was human enough to be someone you might know.
The only wish I have regarding Hunger Games is that I wish didn't know before reading that there was a second (or third) book. Not knowing could've really ramped up the read for me. I love surprises, twist endings, brushes with death. This book definitely had some great brushes with death. I loved not knowing how she would get out of the situations she was in, or how bad it would get before it got better. But since there was a second book, I wasn't as fearful for her safety as I could've been.
That said, I'm glad Hunger Games is a trilogy, and look forward to reading the next book - especially if it delivers as much excitement as this one did. Unfortunately, it's so popular that I have a long wait before my library gets hold of it. Hoping I get it soon!
Thanks to the friends who recommended this book: Dana Strange, and Rachel Pudelek. Check out their blogs! Especially Rachel's Treasure Hunt of YA book reviews.
I can't wait to see the other Highwayers' Best Books of October. I'm always looking for more recommendations.