It seems like everyone and their weird uncle has started a new hobby lately. Some people are baking bread, making soap or candles, or learning a new language.
Well, I’ve also started a new “quarantine hobby.” It was a terrible idea, not because I hate it, but because I’ve become practically obsessed with it over the past few weeks and I can’t make myself stop.
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!
It’s autumn. Leaves are falling, the nights are getting longer, and there’s a chill in the air. It’s the perfect weather for a roaring bonfire. And you know what we do with bonfires?
We roast things.
Look, we’ve all been there. A close, trusted friend (or – gasp – a family member) recommends a book to us. They claim it’s the best use of ink since the first Bibles rolled off of Gutenberg’s printing press. And you trust them, so you decide to give it a try.
And you don’t like it.
Maybe you don’t hate it – maybe you’re just apathetic about it. And then when your friend/family member asks you what you thought, you’re caught in an awkward position. Do you risk your relationship by telling them the truth, or do you lie to spare their feelings?
I’ve read more than my fair share of what I would call “overrated” books. Not all of them are bad books – in fact, in many cases, I think they’re pretty decent works of literature. But the more I think about them, the less I like them. And mostly, I just think they need to be taken down a peg or two.
So gather around the campfire, readers. I’m about to roast some books.
Or, “Books on my TBR, why they’re still there, and if they’re going to stay.”
I was looking at my “To-be-read” list – a.k.a. my TBR – on GoodReads the other day, and I realized there are quite a lot of books on it. Many of them I don’t even remember putting on the list in the first place. Since it’s one of my goals to read 40 books this year and I want to spend time reading books I actually enjoy, I decided that it would be a good time to clean out – purge – my TBR.
I’m removing a lot of books, but I picked 14 to share with you, 7 this week and 7 next week. Without further ado, the first have of the The Great TBR Purge of 2017!
Similar to last week’s list, these characters are a varied bunch. However, they do share one defining quality in that they’re not flat characters. In all of the books mentioned, the authors have taken the time to create three-dimensional, unique characters that aren’t simple cliches.
(By the way, if you want to read more rants about character cliches, head on over to Between Reality and check out my guest post there!)
I don’t have as long of an introduction as I did last week, so I’ll let the characters do the rest of the talking. Here are my Top 5 Heroes (in no particular order)!
A few weeks ago, at the insistence of a friend of mine, I read the YA sci-fi/dystopian novel Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic United States where a group of people, called Epics, have gained superpowers. The main character, David Charleston, is seeking revenge against Steelheart, the Epic who killed his father. To do so, he must enlist the help of the Reckoners, an underground group that fights against the Epics.
As I was reading Steelheart, I not only enjoyed the intriguing storyline and fun characters, but it was also a very well-written book. Sanderson did a wonderful job in crafting the story, and I realized that many of those things could be applied to my own writing. So instead of writing a book review, I give you: “Writing Lessons from Steelheart”
(Don’t worry, no spoilers! The only plot elements I’ll discuss are ones revealed in the book’s synopsis)
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!
A good book is hard to find. This is a truth that I have acknowledged my entire life, but I have come to realize it more and more recently. With a Barnes & Noble gift card in hand, I have browsed the shelves dedicated to young adult literature in search of a book worthy of my “hard-earned” dollars.
Sometimes, a book catches my eye. Maybe the title is clever, or the cover is pretty. Either way, I find myself picking it up to take a closer look. I read the blurb – that little summary on the dust jacket or back cover – and, more often than not, place the book back on the shelf.
You see, there are so many authors trying to hitch a ride on the YA Fiction Express right now. And, quite frankly, that means that there are many, many sub-par books out there. Books full of clichés, poor writing, and very little creativity. I’ve found that while reading book blurbs, there are certain words and phrases that almost always turn me off to a book. Now, I’ve compiled the “Book Blurb Blacklist” so you can be an informed reader too.