Tag Archives: Suzanne Collins

New and Upcoming Books I’m Excited About: February 2014 Edition

So I’ve got to share some news. Not Turtleduck Press news — these are other people’s books I’m talking about. I’m excited about them and hope you will be, too.

First up, a new release by YA author Megan Crewe:

The Worlds We Make by Megan Crewe

Out now. This is the third book in her YA apocalyptic trilogy. In her world, society is brought to its knees by an influenza epidemic, leaving Kaelyn struggling to do the right thing, or even to know what the right thing is. It’s a quieter, more reflective series than is usual in this genre. I’ve read the first two books and can’t wait to read the finale.

Second, an adult fantasy novel by Katherine Addison, otherwise known as Sarah Monette:

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Out in April. Monette is one of my very favourite authors. Last year I read a book she co-wrote with Elizabeth Bear, and loved it so much that I promptly flipped back to the beginning and read it again. The Goblin Emperor has been listed on her Wikipedia page as “forthcoming” for years. I’m beyond thrilled that it’s finally (almost) here.

Speaking of Elizabeth Bear, she writes a lot and, much as I love her, I have trouble keeping up, but this spring will see the conclusion of her current fantasy series:

Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear

Out in April. It’s an epic fantasy trilogy set on a world inspired by the Asian Steppes. Need I say more? (The first book is called Range of Ghosts. You’re welcome.)

Finally, Suzanne Collins doesn’t really need my help with promotion, but I’m sharing anyway: Mockingjay is finally out in paperback as of next week! (Which may also mean the ebook will drop in price.)

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Your turn! What recent or upcoming books are you excited about?

Book vs. Movie: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games movie posterThe book is always better than the movie, right? Usually there’s no contest, or else the movie is different enough that they can’t be compared. (See Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, which was a sweepingly romantic movie and a very literary, non-linear book. See also: Philip K. Dick.) But once in a while they’re close enough that you can look at them both side by side. The Harry Potter series is one. The Hunger Games is another. (Edit: For another take on the book vs. the movie, see the YouTube video by Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency (found via The Mary Sue).)

Let me start by saying that the movie version of The Hunger Games is a very good adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s book. If you’re a fan of the book, chances are you’ll like the movie. If you discovered the movie first, the book will give you added depth without making you wonder how the story managed to change so much between the two media. Most of the major plot points from the book are still there in the movie; most of the character portrayals matched what I imagined from the book, as does the visual style.

Having said that, here are some pros and cons to each version of the story. Spoilers ahoy! Continue reading

Going Meta: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games cover

The stunning book cover

As you have no doubt heard, the film version of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins comes out this week. Even if you haven’t read it, you’ve likely seen the magazine covers or the ad campaign.

And that’s where things get weird. (Or more meta, as the case may be.)

Quick recap: the premise is that in a future version of the United States, teenagers are chosen to fight each other to the death in a televised reality show. Think Survivor, except more so.

Throughout the book, we’re continually reminded of the reality show aspect. (Minor spoilers follow.) Before the games start, Katniss gets dolled up to present the maximum possible spectacle. When she’s in the arena, her thoughts keep returning to the viewers who are watching this brutal show — what they must be thinking, how they’re reacting to events. And so on.

When the book was turned into a movie, we-the-readers suddenly became we-the-viewers. We’ve been placed into the position of the voyeuristic, bloodthirsty hedonists who are (metaphorically) munching popcorn as they watch teenagers thrown into an arena to die. Our gaze forcibly becomes their gaze.

People cover for The Hunger Games

Are we looking at Katniss or Jennifer Lawrence?

The moment when I knew I’d stepped through the looking glass was when I discovered the existence of Hunger Games nail polish.

There’s official merchandise from CafePress, including T-shirts, water bottles, and 50’s-style propaganda.

There’s unofficial merchandise from Etsy, including jewellery and other wearable stuff (WARNING: spoilers for later books in the trilogy).

There are self-referential animated advertising posters (get Cinna’s gold eyeliner!).

You get the idea. The more I discover, the weirder it feels.

On the other hand…a book is not just a book. It’s an action-adventure story with plenty of drama and heartache, but it’s also a critique of our reality-show culture. Survivor and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition were one thing, but now we’re watching Toddlers in Tiaras and Jon & Kate Plus 8 — freak shows, really — and tuning in to the lives of rich people who are famous for nothing more than being famous. When people are inventing things like soccer with tasers, suddenly the Hunger Games don’t seem so unlikely.

If you look at it that way, the fact that the Hunger Games nail polish makes me uncomfortable is actually a good thing. It reminds us that we’re viewers too. So when Katniss looks at the cameras and her face fills the screen, she really is looking at us.