Serious fiction books have become bogged down in self indulgent language and inside jokes. Chick lit has segued into the Chick Memoirs. A young hip New York girl discovers true happiness and love by working on a farm, cooking fancy dishes, or joining a harem. If I read another book about how a woman finds true meaning in life through yoga, I will puke up my organic, locally grown, fava bean salad.
YA books aren't bogged down by pretensions of great literature or by formulaic memoirs. The best writers of our generation have decided to follow J.K. Rowling into the world of great plots and action and big advances.
This week, I plowed through two of three books in the Hunger Games Trilogy. The first in the series, The Hunger Games, was so good that I read it twice.
The Hunger Games is part Shirley Jackson's lottery, part Thunderdome, part Survivor, and part Sparta and the Helots. After a series of terrible natural disasters, North America is controlled by the Capital. The Capital uses terror to keep control over the territories and the people who provide the natural resources for them. One of their means of terrorizing the territories or the Districts is make each of the 12 Districts pick two children's names from a hat. Those 24 children then must fight each other to the death in an arena. The drama plays out on television screens across the country. The story follows the story of Catniss and Peeta as they enter the Hunger Games.
The second in the series, Catching Fire, isn't as good. It suffers from The Two Towers syndrome. Too much of the book is a set up for the final fight in the third book. Still, the set up was excellent. I have the third book hidden up in my closet to give to Jonah as a Christmas present. Would it be terribly wrong, if I read it first?