Sunday, January 29, 2012
Not the resolution that I'd get caught up with my book reviews - I've been pretty pleased with my progress there, although I still have a ways to go. No, the one that I'm feeling uneasy about these days is where I said that I'd try my best to read every book that my children recommend to me. And they are crazy about a book that I've been doing my best to avoid (while claiming that yes, at some point, I'd be reading): The Hunger Games.
What's up with that? I've been thinking about my possibly unreasonable aversion to reading this novel. Some of my very favorite book bloggers have been raving about it, as have some of my favorite young readers at my library. I read Gregor the Overlander and quite liked it. I've decided what my reluctance boils down to is the fact that I really, really dislike feeling emotionally manipulated by books. Not moved by books, which is totally different. I'm talking Old Yeller-like emotionally manipulated. It seems like a cheap shot to show me a puppy, let it grow up all roly-poly and wiggly adorable, then make it be the very best friend to a lonely and possibly abused child, and then oh, no, it died! What a moving metaphor for growing up and the loss of childhood innocence. Not.
So there are some books I stay away from. I will never read The Bridge to Terabithia, The Yearling or Where the Red Fern Grows. I'm sure they are fine books, but no thanks, not for me. My husband teases me that I'm perfectly fine watching movies like Shaun of the Dead as people get torn apart by zombies, but I have never been able to get myself to watch Schindler's List. Yup. I never said I make sense. It's just how I am.
I didn't know all that much about The Hunger Games beyond the fact that it takes place in a dystopian society in the distant future, in which children are sent to fight to the death as televised entertainment. But that sounds to me that by opening that book, I'll really be setting myself up for some serious emotional manipulation. I'm going to get attached to these kids, I just know it. And, you know, like in The Highlander: There can only be one. Do I really want to put myself through this?
So my resolution has been immediately put to the test. And the fact my daughters have used Christmas gift cards to purchase the entire series for their Nooks (which immediately makes them available on mine) means that I cannot claim that it's on a waiting list (and has been at my library on and off for years) to put off reading it.
At the same time, I have to say that my kids have been intensely captivated by this series. My older daughter (who's thirteen now) was assigned it as a group reading book in her 7th grade English class. She is never one to blindly follow fashion, so she started reading it with a very skeptical attitude. But before she was even halfway through the first book, she was totally hooked. My eleven-year-old saw how much her sister was enjoying the book, and she asked to read it, too. I gave her a content advisory warning, and she said she was okay with it, and off she went. They have been so involved with the series that they have spent the last few weeks as inanimate bumps on various pieces of furniture that grunt a bit when prodded. They emerge to eat or, if poked vigorously enough, to set the table, do homework, or unload the dishwasher.
I have taken the plunge. Already I can tell that reading The Hunger Games trilogy is not going to be easy for this wimpy reader, but I can why it has such appeal to so many people. I already have a sinking feeling that someone I'm growing attached to is going to be offed before the end of the series, and I don't like it. But I made my resolution, and I'm sticking to it. And you all get to hear me whine about it!
We'll see how it goes...