by: Joelle Charbonneau
Okay, this post will most likely make Steve Weddle froth at the mouth. Could someone please stick him in the ass with a tranq before he reads this? I really don’t want his family to experience him having a temper tantrum during the pre-holiday frenzy. That just isn’t festive. Besides, it would make me feel downright mean, and I don’t want to be mean.
(insert pause as someone knocks out my fellow redhead)
Is Steve out cold? Good. Here’s the thing. I read Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for the first time about two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve read Catching Fire and Mockingjay – the other two books in the Hunger Games trilogy. Technically, theses are YA books because the heroine is the teen. However, the themes in the book aren’t what I would typically think of when someone mentions young adult books. I’ve read a lot of YA books that have teens learning and living and experiencing the heart ache of high school and college. They fight with their families. They chose whether or not to have sex and deal with all the issues that might bring. They have romances and break-ups and all the drama that being a teen holds. That kind of YA isn’t really for me.
No offense to that part of the genre. Teens love it. They should. It is meant for them. But some books don’t fit into the YA category as easily. Hunger Games and the two following novels are different. I’m going out on a limb here, but something tells me these books would never have been targeted at the young adult reader when I was a young adult. The market and the breadth of the genre has changed and the publishers understand that. Targeting a violent book like Hunger Games at the Young Adult market lends buzz to the book. Some adult readers will praise the book. Others will lament the violence and scream for the publisher to be held accountable for taking the innocence of our youth. Ha! You can’t buy that kind of press.
I am thrilled that our youth is reading period. That being said, I’m even happier when I know they are reading books that ask important questions. The Hunger Games and the two follow-up books do. They force the reader to think about government, rebellion and the ability of good, well-intentioned people to do the wrong thing. The books are violent, but the violence isn’t extraneous. It’s purposeful. Sometimes it makes you angry. Other times it makes you cheer and here and there it makes the reader cry.
These books have great depth, a kick-ass storyline and a heroine that is damage from the first moment she steps onto the page. It is that damage that makes her more than a typical YA heroine. She is more adult that youth. Her circumstances demand it and it is that maturity of spirit that allows adult readers to identify with her.
Sure, there were a few technical flaws in the books – very minor shifts to third person that I caught happening here and there. There were also a couple of flashbacks that I had to read several times and still found a tad bit confusing, but none of these flaws detracted from my enjoyment or my need to turn the pages.
I guess what I’m saying is that there are young adult books and then there are YOUNG ADULT books. To say that the entire genre should not appeal to an adult is belittling some really great reads. I admit that I failed to read Hunger Games or the other books earlier because I chalked them up as YA and therefore not as pressing to read as others. I was totally wrong. If Steve Weddle wakes up from his nap looking mellow – press a copy of Hunger Games into his hand and make him curl up in front of the fire. He won’t be sorry.