By Coury Osbourne
The Book Nerd
I have a confession: I am a book snob. Blame it on the years of studying and teaching the classics, I just can’t help it.
As a result, I used to vehemently refuse to read any book that was the latest craze. I even denied Harry Potter until I took a children’s lit class, which required us to read the first novel (I quickly and immediately devoured the second one and have read all of them probably 10 times each now). Recently, I’ve taken a different approach: I read these books, but I approach them with a bias, reading them more out of curiosity rather than thinking they will be masterpieces. I’m always pleasantly surprised when these crazes end up impressing me. “Hunger Games” was one of those.
For months, people told me I should read them. For some reason, I refused. Until one day, a friend of mine - one who still surprises me when he talks about books - walked up to me right before Christmas break, placed the first book in my hand, and said, “Seriously. Read this.” I couldn’t ignore this recommendation and it came at the perfect time, right at a break. So, I read it.
Twenty-four hours later, I purchased the second book on my Kindle.
Twenty-four hours later, I purchased the third book on my Kindle.
I thought the trilogy was fantastic, especially “Catching Fire” (the second one). I enjoyed how the author, Suzanne Collins, kept the main character, Katniss, true to her age, making her flawed and confused. At the same time, she tackled a difficult subject of repression and rebellion, set in a futuristic time. The series takes place somewhere in America, though it is never directly stated, in the future. Only 12 districts still exist and they are controlled by the Capitol. In the past, the districts tried to rebel against the Capitol. As a reminder of this, every year the Capitol hosts the “Hunger Games,” where each district has to choose one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12-18, to enter the games, where they must fight to their deaths until there is one winner. The games take place in an arena built by the technologically-advanced and cruel-minded people of the Capitol.
The first book was recently turned into a movie, starring two actors from Kentucky. Although books are always better, I loved the movie, as well. It helped me better understand and visualize the Capitol and how they controlled the games (kind of like how the Harry Potter movies helped me visualize Quidditch).
Although it may not be the best-written work of all time, I loved it. I decided to teach it to my sophomores this year, and it became one of my favorite books to teach. I only taught the first one, and almost every student finished the series. Then, at parent teacher conferences, numerous parents told me they decided to read it, too, after hearing their children talk about it. There’s no greater pleasure to an English teacher’s ears!
It is a quick, easy read, but be prepared to buy all three novels. You cannot read just one.
Coury Osbourne is an AP English teacher at Marion County High School. She is also the (patient) wife of Jesse Osbourne, Sun editor.
More of her book reviews can be found online at http://coco-cosby.blogspot.com