The Hunger Games Trilogy

I’m not ashamed to admit that I was wrong about the Hunger Games books. Before reading them, I had assumed that they would be pretty much like any other young adult book. Good, but not very, and overly dramatic in the worst sort of high school drama way. Also, there seemed to be a love triangle and those get really old really fast for me.

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I’ve already reviewed the first book, and I quickly finished the series. It’s fast moving without seeming to manipulate your need to finish it in one go like some thrillers do, with massive cliffhangers at the end of every chapter. Katniss is a relatable character and it’s easy to see why people like her so much. The love triangle was there but it wasn’t the main story line and it was pretty clear who she was going to end up with. And, even better, the writing was good!

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However, I probably won’t be reading these books again. As interesting and well-written as they might be, they are still telling the story of children who are forced to kill each other. People die. Lots of people. A rebellion starts and more people die. Characters we know and care about (and some we don’t). It begins to feel rather pointless after a while, which I understand is accurate to a wartime situation, but really not my cup of tea.

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Because ultimately, I read to escape. And I particularly love reading fantasy and science fiction because those genres provide the best opportunities to do that. I like my stories to end happily, where people get what they deserve, and sometimes what they want, and everything ends with sunshine and daisies. (A bit of an exaggeration of course, but not much.) I don’t like unrelenting brutality and stories that end with hurt and pain. I realize that that is probably more honest and true to life but, well, I can get that from the news. So while I’m glad I read the books and found them good enough to even recommend them to others, I can’t say they were as enjoyable as what I normally like.

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Gormenghast

I recently began re-reading the phenomenal Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake. It consists of Titus Groan (published 1946), Gormenghast (1950), and Titus Alone (1959). I’m only a few chapters into Titus Groan but already I’m remembering why I loved it so much.

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It’s an incredibly strange story and like nothing I’ve ever read before (or since). It’s been hugely influential on modern fantasy fiction yet nobody seems to read it anymore or even have heard of it. In fact, I was only introduced to it through a miniseries I saw several years ago (14 years, actually! How time flys). Starring Christopher Lee and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, it was deliciously weird and I fell in love immediately. I read the books as soon as I could get my hands on them and they’ve been a favorite ever since.

Has any one else read, seen or heard of Gormenghast? I love that it’s always felt like my little secret but good things are always better shared.