Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Hunger Games Nostalgia and Some Recommended Reading for When You Finish the Books!

I've been feeling nostalgic this week about my experience reading and loving The Hunger Games books with the movie coming out. I probably won't get a chance to go and see the movie until next week, but it's fun to see the media coverage about the they came to be such big hits, etc. I loved them, as you know, and there will always be something special to me about books that manage to gain such wide readership. It seems rare for books to be those kind of cultural touchstones now, it's almost impossible to get people to read.

The other day Lenore talked about her part in raising awareness about the books and I'm pretty sure it was her early enthusiasm that made me read the book myself. I will never forget BEA 2009 when we got up at the crack of dawn to get tickets for advance reader copies of Catching Fire. I even texted Michelle when we got the release date for the book..and remember when Michelle made those Teem Peeta and Team Gale badges? It's a rare and special thing for books to ignite the imagination of readers and it's fun to look back at those times and the friends I share those memories with--after all what I find so special about books like these are not only the stories themselves but the sense of community and kinship they create among readers. I doubt I will ever be able to think about The Hunger Games without thinking of Lenore, much like I will forever remember the person who first lent me Harry Potter.

I've been seeing tons of book lists floating around for what to read after The Hunger Games and most of them consist of other popular dystopian YA works. I think such lists miss the mark a bit, because I think there are many different elements to The Hunger Games that readers find appealing. I decided to make my own list of recommended reads, and it does include other dystopian books, but some other books as well. Enjoy and feel free to add your own recommendations in comments!

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami seems like the most predictable choice since it is also about a government sanctioned battle to the death between school children but thematically it is much different than The Hunger Games. It's very intense and graphic and digs much deeper into the psychological mindset of fighting such a battle and survival. It is a translated work that can sometimes be really difficult to deal with but I highly recommend it. I also think since people compare the books so often it's worthwhile to read and see the differences for yourself. My original review.

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay is for people who are drawn to the survival aspect of THG. This is the story of a girl, Cori, who goes on a mission trip to Indonesia but things quickly get bloody and bad. It's a page turner about survival in the jungle, but also thought provoking about violence and even religious freedom. I loved it. It's published by a Christian publisher but it's not at all didactic.

Pure by Julianna Baggott is a good read for anyone who is looking for another unique post-apocalyptic world that draws a sharp contrast between the haves and have-nots. It's also beautifully written and the characters are well drawn. It's distinguished by excellent world building and thought provoking issues. One of the better modern dystopians with a loveable female protagonist. Read my review.

The Ruins by Scott Smith is a really engrossing horror story that tackles a different idea about our present culture and survival..would lazy spoiled American teens be able to survive something horrific happening to them? I completely devoured this book when I read it and still distinctly remember the experience of reading it. It's a survival story but also a horror story and also a movie that I never watched. Read my original review.

When I finished Mockingjay I finally read Suzanne Collins Gregor the Overlander books and they were exactly what I needed so of course I'm going to recommend them. These books are inventive and explore serious and similar issues to THG, but they also have characters that you can't help but love. The same sensibility that permeates The Hunger Games fill these books but for a middle grade audience. When I read these books, I realized that Suzanne Collins is not a one hit wonder, I am definitely looking forward to whatever she writes next. I only reviewed the first book, you can find my review here.

Wither is a dystopian novel with an entirely different premise to The Hunger Games but I found it simliar in surprising ways when I read the book. Certain thematic elements such as what is reality and what is not the two books share in common as well as an interesting love triangle. When I read Wither I raced right through it, but it's not without its problems--most of which were pointed out to me in later discussions. Even so, I found it hard to put down. Read my review. could be that you want something COMPLETELY different to read when you finish The Hunger Games something that will you feel happy and hopeful about life. In that case, I recommend The Survival Kit a book I just wish more people would read period.

What do you recommend to people after they finish The Hunger Games?

For nostalgia's sake...
My original review of The Hunger Games (omg so cute I still used the publisher's synopsis)
Speaking of cheese this post on the sweet anticipation of waiting while I wax poetic about reading communities
My review of Catching Fire
My initial reaction to Mockingjay
My collection of links about Mockingjay (I was never able to write a review)


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