Last May, the publicity team at BenBella Books offered me a copy of a collection of critical essays about Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series, The Girl Who Was on Fire. In celebration of The Hunger Games movie, BenBella Books has released an updated, movie tie-in edition of the book with three new essays and, if you buy the ebook edition, bonus movie content a week after the film is released. According to a press release they sent out with the book,
On March 23, 2012, the film The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence, hits theaters—and one week later, Smart Pop will provide e-book buyers with those YA authors’ thoughts about the film.
I grabbed this book at BEA because I have a bit of an author crush on Bill Willingham and his Fables series of graphic novels. I don’t read a lot of middle grade/young adult fiction, but the idea of Down the Mysterly River reminded of a lot of what Willingham does in Fables — play around with stories we think we know and finding ways to explore them in new ways.
The Girl Who Was on Fire is what I’d consider “literary criticism light” — it’s not so theoretical that it’s dense or hard to read, but it’s not simple enough that I’d already considered all of the arguments in the essays. I really enjoyed exploring the series again through a more critical lens — a lens I couldn’t find myself when I read and reread the books.
On Monday night, my In Real Life book club met to discuss Paper Towns by John Green. This is, I think, the first young adult book we’ve read as a book club. There’s something about reading a book about high school that just takes you back there, trading stories about the person you were when you were a high-schooler.
Not do something for this year’s September 11 anniversary left me with an absence having not thought about it, so I took some time this week to read a couple of books as a way to remember – Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto and Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan. I don’t want to write about them at the same time to compare them because they’re totally different, but together they helped fill some of that gap I was feeling.
Wednesday’s Topic: We invite you to share with us a book or genre you tried due to the influence of another blogger. What made you cave in to try something new and what was the experience like?
In a weird way, I think my reading has actually gotten more selective since BBAW last year. After I was nominated for Best Nonfiction Review Blog in 2009, I started reading more and more nonfiction, since that seemed to be what people expected. I did read a lot of nonfiction before, but the choice has seemed more deliberate since then.
This week I made the decision that I was going to re-read both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins before I jumped into Mockingjay. I made the decision sort of last minute – the day Mockingjay came out – so I ended up having to wait a few days for my books to get delivered, but once they arrived I read though all three books in three days.
A Note from Kim: After the Book Blogger Convention, I came home with a pretty sweet bag of books. Not all of them were really my thing, so I passed on a few to my sister to read and review. Jenny’s been on the blog before – last summer we did a series of Sister’s Reviews – but this is her first solo review. Please give her a warm welcome back!
I will start my review by saying that Deb Caletti has been compared a lot to Sarah Dessen. If you recall from our Sister Reviews last summer, Sarah Dessen has written one of my favorite books ever The Truth About Forever, so I had high hopes for The Secret Life of Prince Charming going in.
When I broke down the genre of the first 20 books I read this year, Becker (Dwelling in Possibility) suggested that I should read more YA fiction. Coincidentally, I already had John Green’s first book, Looking for Alaska, on request from the library — awesome! I also had a five hour bus ride home at the end of the semester, and a thin YA book felt like about all my brain could handle.
One Sentence Summary: Still learning to use her psychic powers, Claire Voyant finds herself wrapped up in secret societies and good deeds while still working to survive high school and figure out the problems with her problematic crush.
One Sentence Review: Mechling’s second book about Claire improves on the problems with the first, creating a readable story with convincing high school drama and even more time with a cast of excellent background characters.