Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Hunger for a Good Book

Some authors come up with an idea, then they run with it, do what they can to publish it and if luck or perfect timing is on their side, it can become a roller coaster ride of mass proportions.

The Hunger Games written by Suzanne Collins has become one of those examples.
Not since the Twilight series have I heard and seen so much hype about a book series.  The Hunger Games has been a hot topic in our household for quite some time now.  Ever since The Hunger Games became available to read and my youngest read the first book in the series, he was hooked.  He has read all three books in the series at least three times and I have no doubt he’ll read them again. 

When my son first explained to me that The Hunger Games was about an extreme government which pitted child against child to the death for the sake of retribution and enjoyment, I was at first questioning and then concerned.  Why did he enjoy reading a book about such things?  The whole concept, from a parent’s perspective, was awful.  But as my son explained to me what he was reading as he moved along in the books, I could see that he had come to not only enjoy the books and the way they were written but he was also becoming very close to the characters themselves. 
That, as an author, is what we strive for…we can only hope that readers will not only enjoy the story and how it is written but even more, that they will become close to the characters and really care for them.  It is the characters, when it comes to a book series, which will keep readers coming back for more again and again.   

Once the news of a movie based on the first book was announced, the chatter of opening night at the box office was in full force.  My son was so excited about the news of the upcoming movie that he stored away a movie ticket he received as a Christmas gift, stating that he would only use the ticket for The Hunger Games.  I think he wanted to make sure I had no excuses when it came to taking him to the movie since I do often complain about the cost of movie tickets.    
As everyone knows, opening weekend was this weekend.  The theater where we saw the movie had showings every half hour and it would appear to have been a good decision, based on the amount of people we saw during the first showings of the day.  Not having read the books yet (believe me, my son is begging me to read them so I will eventually take the time), I will say I thought the movie was pretty good.  It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me hope that somehow these kids did not have to also made me wish one of the characters in the movie would tell Effie Trinket her makeup looked ridiculous (but for her character, it was completely perfect).

But as with most movies, I doubt it stands up to the actual book.  My son also enjoyed the movie but he did agree the book was better, giving more depth to the characters and the plot itself.  Even so, he is excited about the prospect of a second movie and I think that is partly due to the fact that his favorite book in the whole series is the second book.  I hope the movie doesn’t disappoint him but as with any avid reader, he can always lose himself again in the paperback version of the story. 
When Suzanne Collins first came up with the idea for The Hunger Games series, I doubt she had any idea what a phenomenon she was going to create.  I read that she is the first children’s or young adult author to sell over one million Kindle ebooks, making her the sixth author to join the “Kindle Million Club.”  On top of the traditional book sales, that’s a huge accomplishment! 

All writers can hope to enjoy this sort of fame but such a thing is itself a rare phenomenon.  I applaud Collins for her success with this series, not because of the money or the numbers, but because it is exciting when a book or a series grabs the attention of so many individuals.  Not only is this a positive outcome for the writer but even more important is that there are writers capable of gaining the attention of children and young adults so that they actually enjoy reading. 
Reading should not be a chore but rather an enjoyable diversion we try to sneak in whenever we have the time.  In my opinion, when an author causes such a stir so that even those who may not read often decide they should check out a book to see what all the fuss is about, that result is true success when it comes to a writer’s accomplishments.

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