Monday, January 16, 2012
100 Books #6 - Suzanne Collins' CATCHING FIRE
Well, this is something I haven't done for a while: finished one book in just a day and a half, then raced on to devour its sequel in a single day. Possibly not since I was a teenager with a small stack of new Michael Moorcocks*.
Suzanne Collins has Orson Scott Card's ability** to make ethical dilemmas the main engine of a plot, and also to plausibly and realistically depict kids not only as agents in their own destinies, but as deadly ones, abilities she more than demonstrated in The Hunger Games, and keeps on displaying here.
The stakes were pretty high in the first book; in the second they're made even higher as our heroine learns that the threat is not just to her own dear personal family (or what's left of it) but to everyone she loves AND everyone they love. Fine lessons in appreciating interdependence, these books: the stories demonstrate that ties to others are as much a source of strength as a weakness, really more so. And that circumscribing an arbitrary set and saying that's what matters does little, if any, good to anyone, least of all the circumscriber.
That's maybe tough even for some adult readers to confront, so bully for Collins for believing that tweens and teens should have to face it, too. Of course, that's what the best young adult fiction should do: take its readers, their ability to deal with REALLY adult situations*** seriously. And this, Catching Fire most certainly does.
Bring on Mockingjay. Except, you know, I already started it...
*Bookstores are few and far between in Wyoming, and visits to a town with one were rare in my youth, so having such a stack was a special treat. I did not then, nor, apparently, do I now, have the ability to ration out my enjoyment and make it last. Though it may be argues that, in this ebook age of abundance, I don't have to.
**But, so far as I know anyway, none of his disappointing and highly boycottable douchenozzlery.
***As opposed to what the MPAA and other big media ratings groups consider to be adult situations, which are usually quite juvenile except in that they involve a lot of nakedness, which is merely infantile.