I read a book: Gone, by Michael Grant

I saw this book at Barnes & Noble a while back and looked for it on Libby as I often do. The synopsis described it as Lord of the Flies, if Stephen King had written it. While I am not the biggest King fan, I did find the concept intriguing. I put a hold on both audio and kindle versions of the book and waited for my turn.

Initially I didn’t love the narration. That is not to say the narrator did a poor job, he did not. It was just a little slow, and speeding it up to my reading speed made his voice a bit grating on my ears. However, that feeling faded as I got into the story. And the story is great. It is very much Lord of the Flies, but the kids have powers and even the world around them has changed in inexplicable ways. Everyone age 15 or older has disappeared and the remaining kids have to figure out how to survive without adults, phones, or internet. Their powers grow stronger every day, making the fight for supremacy more and more dangerous. And on top of that, the de facto leaders of the two factions are nearing their 15th birthdays. They have discovered that kids disappear with the rest of the population on their 15th, so this impending doom makes things super tense. And the battling factions aren’t even the scariest part! Animals have gone bonkers and started evolving into sentient beings following the will of another being that the kids don’t even know exist.

If the ages of the main characters hasn’t clued you in, this is a YA series. I don’t spend a lot of time browsing the YA section of the bookstore, but I have found that I generally enjoy dystopian YA series.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. I found it to be overall well written with strong characters and interesting story development. Some details were predictable, but it didn’t detract from the whole. It ends in a way that left me wanting more. There’s so much going on, I haven’t even touched half of it in this review. I’ll definitely be continuing the series.

I read a book: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

I put off reading The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins for a long time. It was published long after my YA days and was often mentioned adjacent to the hype of other popular YA series of the time that I was completely uninterested in for various reasons. My kid was never interested in it, so I didn’t have it on our shelves. There are some from that era that I loved (Divergent, The Giver), some that I will get to eventually (The Maze Runner, everything Rick Riordan has ever written), and others yet that I will never read (Harry Potter). If you’re sensing a pattern here, it’s because there is one. I like bleak dystopian stories and demigods and I don’t care about child wizards written by turds.

My knowledge of The Hunger Games was limited to what I’d gleaned from memes and Jennifer Lawrence’s appearances on late night comedy interview shows. I never read a synopsis and never saw the movies (not even clips!). I picked this up on a whim while browsing Kindle Unlimited. And because I enjoy listening to the audiobook while I read along, I checked it out from the library on Libby. Reading can be an expensive hobby if you buy every book you read. I read so much and am eternally grateful for the existence of libraries, not only because I have the joy of working at a great one, but because I don’t have to buy as many books as I read.

So, the games. This story takes place in a place called Panem, which is a post apocalyptic North America. There’s a huge gap between the haves and the have nots. Katniss and her family have not, and she spends her days illegally hunting game in the woods outside her district and then hustling to sell what her family doesn’t need. The game itself is a fight to the death. The contestants are children, whose names are basically drawn from a hat. Scrawny little 10 year olds are pitted against brawny teenagers. All these kids are thrown into an arena that looks like a forest that the game masters have complete control over, given minimal opportunities to acquire survival supplies, and everyone else must watch these kids kill each other off until one remains. If they aren’t killing each other fast enough, the game masters will trigger things like forest fires or torrential rains. It’s like a weird reality show and the prize is survival and PTSD. And what is the point of the game? Why do they have to go through this year after year? It is never really spun in a positive light, as the story is told by Katniss. The games exist to remind people of how good(?) they have it after the remaining population was districted off. Remember how we used to fight for our own survival by reliving it year after year. But the people are smarter than that and understand that the games are a means of control.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. I thought this book was great. While the premise is about the deaths of many children fighting each other for survival, I didn’t feel like it was overly violent or gory, and the reactions of our heroine were realistic. I felt like a spectator rooting for my district representative to win. The ending is the beginning of a whole new trial for Katniss. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that considering that there are two more books in the series. And I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.

You can borrow The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins from Kindle Unlimited, your local library, or buy it at any major bookseller.