I recently picked up The Hunger Games, a book that I had been meaning to read for ages. Not only because I had heard it was good, but also so I could finally raise my hand at all the writing conferences when asked if I've read it or not.
Now, it wasn't a hard sell. I'm a fan of dystopia since way back. As a teen I read George Orwell and Ray Bradbury. As I've gotten interested in kid lit, I've really enjoyed Lois Lowry (Gathering Blue) and Jeanne DuPrau's The People of Ember. Cormac McCarthy's The Road made me sob way into the night. (I've even written a dystopic picture book which I haven't had the guts to tell anyone about since my critique group heard it and went, "huh?" Well, except for a certain agent who raised her eyebrows in sincere interest at the last conference I attended. That reminds me...I need to work on that...).
But talk about dystopia with heart. The Hunger Games was a hard read to put down. Sure, there were things that bothered me (most of all that one of the major characters was named "Peeta" and he just happened to work at a bakery...never quite got over that one...), but overall I really enjoyed the book. In fact, it's the first book I've read into the wee hours of the night, in spite of my aging body's disapproval. Katniss is so tough, while at the same time being so very fragile. In other words, a great and complex character. From the first few chapters, I was hooked into her story and wanted to know what would happen to her.
Any book that can work that magic is a winner, indeed.