May The Odds Be (N)ever In Your Favor

Here’s your hot take for the week: We don’t understand The Hunger Games.

“But Maggie,” I hear you say, “How could we not understand The Hunger Games? It was the biggest teen movie franchise since Twilight! Don’t you remember reading about how well the movies performed commercially? Didn’t you give a presentation on the cultural impact of dystopian fiction on young adults?”

I did indeed give such a presentation, but that doesn’t debunk my claim right off the bat. There are plenty of readers and viewers of The Hunger Games who looked beyond the hype and saw the message of the story – we wouldn’t still be talking about it otherwise. But in general, our society has missed the point.

Let’s get one other thing out of the way: The Hunger Games is not my favorite book or film series, not by a long shot. If you asked me to name my top ten books of all time, I doubt it would make the list. That’s not to say it’s a bad book though! I think it’s an excellent read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to better understand young adult literature. Personally though, I’m more interested in how The Hunger Games is (or maybe was) a cultural phenomenon.

For those reading this who missed out on The Hunger Games or just did not care, here’s the premise: a futuristic and dystopian nation known as Panem holds an annual “Hunger Games” in which 24 “tributes” between the ages of 12-18 are selected to participate in a televised fight to the death. The heroine, Katniss, volunteers for the Games to take the place of her younger sister Prim. Fair warning, there will be plenty of spoilers as we keep going!

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Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Hunger Games.

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Seven siblings from stories

Seven Siblings from Stories

Siblings. Love them or hate them, you’re pretty much stuck with them. They’re always there for you in when you’re knocked down… sometimes to give you a hand, sometimes because they pushed you. Such is life.

In case you don’t know, I have a younger brother (just one – the header image is of me with my brother and my cousin). So as someone who’s experienced having a sibling, I feel like I can be a pretty good judge of when someone writes sibling relationships well… and most of the time, they don’t. They usually fall into one of two extremes: always getting along 24/7, or hating each other’s guts. Going off of my own experience and what I’ve learned from others, sibling relationships usually fall more in the middle.

But anyway, just because most people can’t write siblings to save their life doesn’t mean there aren’t good, well-written sibling relationships in stories. I’ve compiled a list of seven of them, just to prove it. So here we go.

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What I Love About YA

I’ll be the first to admit that I criticize young adult books more often than I praise them. This is partly because I have a tendency to be cynical, and partly because the YA genre as a whole is extremely saturated with poorly-written books.

That being said, I don’t actually hate young adult books. I know it comes as a shock. But in reality, I actually really love reading YA, and that’s what occupies most of space on my bookshelves. I like to say that I criticize it out of love for the genre, because it has so much potential, and yet so many books fail to reach it.

There are some diamonds in the rough when it comes to YA – it just takes some time to find them. Anyway, to balance out my sarcasm and criticism from last week’s post, I’ve decided to list a couple of things that I like about young adult books. To be honest, this probably doesn’t apply to the genre as a whole, but in the YA books that I’ve really enjoyed, this is what has stuck out to me. So without further ado, here’s the list!

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