The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. 374 p. Published September 2008.

I’ve known about The Hunger Games since it climbed the bestseller lists a few years ago but haven’t had the chance to actually read it myself until now.

With her mother not up to the task, Katniss Everdeen has had to fend for her family since her father passed in a tragic mining accident. despite being only 16, She’s perfected the hunting and foraging skills he taught her and, together with her friend Gale, managed to eek out a living with daily forays into the forbidden forests beyond the distrtict’s border.

Katniss lives in The Seam, the poorest part of Panem’s Twelfth District. The 12th, known mainly for it’s coal production, lies farthest from the capitol of what remains in a post-apocalyptic North America. The Capitol, in an effort to remind the districts where the power lies, hold a yearly competition dubbed The Hunger Games. 2 contestants, heralded as idols, are drafted from each district outside the Capitol to participate in this twisted reality series where fame and riches await the victor. The catch: they must outlive the other 23 contestants, all of whom are out to murder them.

Katniss is horrified when her younger sister is picked in the lottery and is quick to volunteer in her place. She knows that it’s a death sentence – no one from her district has survived a Hunger Games in decades. This is driven home when her compatriot, a childhood friend, is drafted and the pair meet their notoriously inebriated trainer.

What follows is a mesmerizing tale of wit, love, despair, and heartbreak. Collins immerses the reader into the paranoid mindset of a girl hellbent on survival with almost dizzying rapidity. Mixing in elements of science fiction, this young adult title does a fantastic job of drawing the reader into it’s world and characters. The complaint I hear most often from dissenters is how infuriated they get with the protagonist’s paranoid perspective as she reacts to imagined or misinterpreted slights. I, however, find this to be a true mark of Collins’ skill developing a character – after all, have you ever been around a teenage girl without becoming irritated at the irrationality of the experience?

While I’m not sure I’ll enjoy the movie when it comes out in 2012, I’ll probably see it. However, I’ll definitely be reading Catching Fire, the 2nd book in the series, as soon as I get through the current stack of novels on my shelf.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews of The Hunger Games: FyreFly’s Book Blog, Caribou’s Mom

State of the ‘Chain’

Now that we’re half way through December, I think it’s safe to say that NaNoWriMo was a bust. Got to about 20k then gave in to the chittering monkeys clambering for a break. Which is too bad because it looks like every one of the dozen other participants I know finished this year. I think a big part of my failure was tied to a growing lack of motivation. Well, maybe next time I’ll get more involved with communal write-ins. That said, I hope to practice by continuing to write over the mean time. Maybe post some of it here.

Harking back to the roots of this blog, the next few posts are going to be book reviews. Hopefully this will once again become a somewhat regular occurrence (seeing as I’ve got about a dozen more books waiting to be read). As for Blogenning… well, everyone seems to still be recovering from NaNo, so who knows.

NaNoWriMo 2011: Part 5

Holy crap, I’ve actually started writing again.

Long, long way yet to go.

Playing in the Background: Apocalyptica, Flogging Molly, Alestorm, Dropkick Murphys

Current Word Count: 15,462/23,338.

Edit: Okay, it’s about an hour later. New word count: 16,071/23,338.

Quote:

GET. UP. His elbow bent as he propped his palm against the ground for leverage.
The mantra resounded through his head.
GET UP!
James pushed, forcing himself to knees. His vision swam and mind reeled with the surge. He tried to steady himself with an arm against the car door, but the chicken pot pie that had been dinner surged forward with a violent heave, painting the black asphalt.

Background Noise

NaNoWrimo is progressing. Straggling behind by about a day, but sticking with it. I could really use a 4-5k word day.

One part of my writing process is that I need noise. It’s kind of funny but silence drives me to distraction. You’ll notice that I’ve been listing a few things in my NaNoWriMo posts (livejournal made it a lot easier, but whatever). Maybe turn on the TV or put in a movie – something that can be in the background. But if I really need to get some progress, it’s music.

Here’s a small selection of the last 24 hours:

NaNoWriMo 2011: Part 3

Okay, I’m going to stop posting these every day, I swear.

Today was shaky. Slept in which left me 1000 words behind. Managed to catch up and actually bounce a bit ahead once I finished chapter 2 and FINALLY introduced my main character.

Playing in the background: Thrice, Mastodon, and Avenged Sevenfold

Quote of the day:

It was this final image, the pair of them gazing out of the rear of an old wood-panelled station wagon, the Carlsbad Special Needs Home fading into the distance, that Hector now scribbled onto the clean white paper. The sound of the charcoal wasn’t quite as calming as the pencils his sister had used, but he found himself relaxing bit by tiny bit. The bare bulb hanging from a cord above his desk wasn’t very bright, widely casting shadows as it swung back and forth. He had jerked it pretty hard in the mad rush from his bed, the nightmares still fresh in his mind.
Current Word Count: 5,342/4,998.

WTFood: International Stout Day

As I mentioned before, yesterday was International Stout Day, the day we celebrated my favorite style of beer! For those unfamiliar with the different styles of beer, a stout is a dark beer where the malt and hops have been roasted, giving it a strong flavor. That is, in fact, why it’s called a stout (meaning “strong”).  In addition, the alcohol content is usually around 7-8%, pretty strong for a beer. The Stout Day website has a pretty good synopsis of the history.

The most commonly known stout is Guinness, but I wanted to stick to some American Microbrews. I chose two actually. First was Pretty Things Babayaga, their “sylvan stout”. A brewery from my own great state of MA, Pretty Things like to put their own twist on type names. “Babayaga” is actually an export stout, or a stout brewed in bigger batches so that it travels better. I first came across Pretty Things last year, trying their Saint Botolph’s Town brown ale and really enjoyed their table at the BeerAdvocate Beerfest this past spring (though sadly was not fast enough to get tickets to this February’s Extreme Beer Fest, which sold out in 2 hours).

“Babayaga” had good mouthfeel, great herby smokiness, a touch of hops, and a surprisingly bright note to the finish I don’t associate with stouts but really enjoyed. I think it’s the first time I’ve been able to refer to a stout as “refreshing”.

My next beer was one I saw trending on Untappd so I thought I’d try it out. Breakfast Stout by Founders Brewing Company out of Michigan. A “Double Chocolate Coffee Oatmeal Stout” – honestly, I think I would have gotten this out of sheer intrigue even without seeing it trending. I’ve had chocolate and double chocolate stouts, coffee stouts, and oatmeal stouts, but all together?!

Honestly, my mouth didn’t even know what was going on for the first half of the glass. Dark and rich, surprises of spice and roasted sweetness – holy wow. Honestly, I think this beer was just too complex for my palate! Thankfully I bought a 4-pack, so I’ll have a few more chances to really get a grip on this meal of a brew.

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