lip lit: ya mini round-up, the hunger games + spoiled
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
It’s safe to say the only thing currently rivaling Twilight delirium is the insatiable appetite for The Hunger Games (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself). After my unfortunate experiment in reading Twilight, I had decided not to read The Hunger Games. I thought it was going to be in the vein of Twilight and consist of boring love triangle centered by a maudlin female. I thought it would be written so badly I would cringe.
A combination of being sick and realising plenty of people I know who loathe Twilight love The Hunger Games finally made me pick up a copy. I devoured it in one afternoon. For those unfamiliar with the plot-line, The Hunger Games is set in the post-apocalyptic future, in the ruins of what was once North America. It is now a small country called Panem which consists of a city called the Capitol, surrounded by twelve districts. About 74 years before The Hunger Games is set, there was civil unrest between the Capitol and the districts. This led to the complete destruction of District 13, and the Capitol starting ‘The Hunger Games’ as punishment for the remaining districts. Every year, at random, a boy and a girl aged between 12-18 are chosen from each district to fight to the death in the televised Hunger Games. And, oh, it’s the most popular TV show in the country.
16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers for the games after her 12-year-old sister’s name is drawn, narrates The Hunger Games. Katniss is the type of female character who makes you want to give the book to your younger sibling/cousin/niece/daughter. She’s strong, steadfast and honest. But like all of us, she’s flawed. She’s defensive and a little clueless. While she’s a force of nature, Collins has given her enough insecurities that the reader can relate to her. And even though Katniss’s heart beats for two different boys, unlike other females in literature, she doesn’t let it consume her. She has more important things to worry about – the girl actually has perspective.
Collins has created a visually invigorating world with a disturbingly believable premise. Aside from the obvious allegories into how low producers will go for ratings and what society views as ‘entertainment’, Collins uses the book to explore huge themes such as loyalty and survival. Importantly, she examines personal ethics and how they can be exploited and compromised. While The Hunger Games is not in the same class as Harry Potter, it’s definitely above Twilight. So if you’re struggling to find a gift for a younger relative or want to be swept away for a few hours, it’s definitely worth the purchase.
Scholastic ($12 – $33.95 depending on edition)
Spoiled by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Spoiled is a tongue-in-cheek young adult novel written by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks of fashion blog Go Fug Yourself. If you’re not familiar with the much-bookmarked blog, the duo post photos of celebrities outfits and critiques them with pop culture references, a biting wit, and a whole lot of sass. The writing of Spoiled is no different.
After her mother dies of cancer, sixteen-year-old Molly Dix learns famous movie star Brick Berlin (think Bruce Willis with a dash of bongo-playing Matthew McConaughey) is her father. She relocates from Iowa to Hollywood to live with him and her half-sister Brooke. Upon arriving in Hollywood, Molly is overwhelmed by all the media attention and needs to quickly figure out who her real friends are. Meanwhile, Brooke is dismayed by all of the media attention her half-sister is commanding, as she had feels cast to the sidelines. Will the two girls ever be able to connect as sisters?
What could otherwise be a colour-by-numbers young adult novel turns into so much more under the wry writing of Morgan and Cocks. Brick – who speaks in metaphors involving protein shakes – has hilarious one-liners, and while he obviously loves both his daughters, he is sadly clueless when it comes to being actively present in their lives. While Brooke is spoiled and vapid, Morgan and Cocks have imbued her with a vulnerability which makes her compelling. Likewise, Molly is not the sterotypical Mid West cliché – the girl can hold her own. And perhaps this is what makes the book so engaging: you can’t decide if you’re Team Brooke or Team Molly.
Spoiled is refreshing and hilarious, and perfect if you are fans of GFY – or for anyone who is intrigued by the Hollywood culture but takes it with the grain of salt it deserves.
Allen & Unwin, $16.95