Subway Literature: My Long-Overdue Suzanne Collins Binge

57753744_aI work in SoHo, and every day on the way in I walk past the big banner over the Scholastic flagship store on Broadway. When the red one for Catching Fire went up, I realized I’d had The Hunger Games on my to-read list for more than a year. Around the same time, my sister Stephanie asked for some ideas for Christmas and my birthday, and I emailed her Suzanne Collins’ name and the titles of both books. I finished the second yesterday at 3 a.m., roughly four hours after I started it on the train home from work and roughly eight hours after I finished the first during my lunch break.


Why don’t I time these things better? Now I have to wait until AUGUST or something for the third book. As if it wasn’t bad enough to have read Westerfeld’s Leviathan the week it came out and now have to wait till October for Behemoth. I almost went berserk in the four hours I had to work between finishing The Hunger Games and starting Catching Fire. Now this. The third book doesn’t come out until…that’s right…AUGUST!!

For anyone who isn’t aware of how awful this situation is, allow me to explain. The Hunger Games series takes place in Panem, which is what is left on the North American continent after global warming and global wars have hacked it down to a Capitol and twelve outlying districts. Seventy-odd years ago, the districts (then thirteen) rebelled against the Capitol, but the rebellion was put down brutally, resulting in the destruction of District Thirteen and the inception of an annual act of penance in which each district–the populations of most of  which are now all but starving–must send two tributes, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18, to the Capitol to compete in the Hunger Games. One tribute will win, taking food and fame back to his or her district. The others don’t get to go home at all. The Games are a battle to the death, televised on national television.

Yes, fully half the book is about twenty-four children teens killing each other on live t.v.

Oh, it’s also about family, responsibility, civics, community, and standing up for what’s right. It’s a devastating love story. And Katniss Everdeen is one of the fiercest, coolest heroines I’ve ever had the agony of wishing I’d written myself, right alongside John Scalzi’s Zoe (Zoe’s Tale). And as much the dreadful manipulations of the Capitol and the Games themselves will horrify you, they will all seem perfectly logical, the logical results of the society that has twisted itself to become Panem. And you will ache, along with Katniss, Peeta, and Gale, for rebellion.

And then you’ll have to wait until August. But it will be worth the wait, I have no doubt.

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