It is not unusual these days to find a book written for the young adult that has appeal to an older audience. Some of the best fiction these days is in the young adult genre. The Hunger Games falls into this category. Katniss and Peeta are District 12 children, aged 16, who are selected to participate in Panem's annual hunger games. 22 other tributes/contestants are also drawn - 12 boys and 12 girls between the ages of 12 and 18. The objective for the tributes is to be the last one standing. The objective of Panem is to remind all districts that they may not rebel against the Capitol. The book is about the games themselves. If the reader is looking for a fast paced, action driven, gory, bloody plot, this is not the book. The violence of the games is not masked by Collins, but she treats it in a PG13 way, alluding at certain events that cause the deaths of the tributes. After all, it is written for the PG13 audience, not for the mature adult. But certainly a young adult sees and hears far worse on the evening news. The action of the book is far more about strategy, problem solving, critical thinking, relationship building, and the wisdom, or not, of rebelling and why. These are the common themes that young adults face in the teenage years. But they are couched in a plot that contemporaries can relate to. This cleverly created book is well written with good character development. It is respectably read by McCormick and easy to follow. I highly recommend it to anyone and have purchased it and the sequel (the final book in the trilogy will be available in print 8/2010) for two young adults I know. I have also recommended it to my adult friends, who were quite puzzled by my droopy eyes all week as I stayed up until 2:30 or later in the mornings reading the book. Although they know I am a voracious reader, they recognized this as a highly unusual book that fully engaged my attention.
This is the first book I have read by Tamora Pierce. When I purchase audiobooks, I usually throw in a few young adult titles so that I know what I'm recommending to my grandchildren. I thought this book was engaging and the full audio cast presentation was outstanding. Evvy and Master Louvo, "Fuss pot" and Rosethorn take their magical skills to an island to determine what is killing the plants. From there we learn the problem and are involved in the magical solution. For an audience aged 12-14, this book is delightful, especially for fans of fantasy. But it is equally enjoyable for the adult if one is willing is suspend the belief system. I like that a female saves the day, so this book would be particularly interesting to girls. And one learns something about rocks and volcanoes along the way. After this reading, I immediately went to my local bookstore to purchase it for a young teen who I know loves to read. I was shocked to learn that it is still only available in hardback and they were all sold out. So she'll have to wait. Nicely done and nicely read.
(Warning: Review contains slight spoilers for The Hunger Games.) The second in a triology, Collins continues the story of Katniss and Peeta. The first dual victors of the Capitol's Hunger Games, the plot picks up with them living in the victor's village. Katniss struggles with her relationship concerns between Gale and Peeta and finds herself bored without the constant struggle to survive. However, the Capitol is not pleased with her and it doesn't take long for action to begin as tension rises in District 12, most of which is centered on or around Katniss. Like the first book, conflict rises gradually, and steadily increases throughout the book until the end. And, as in most "middle books" of any triology, it does its job in continuing the story to prepare the reader for the last book. I found the book to be equally well written and just as captivating as The Hunger Games. I read it straight through in two days. If there is any real criticism of this book, it is in the critical thinking skills of Katniss. Chronologically she is a year older, yet these skills as they pertain to relationships do not improve as one would expect. And this encroaches slightly on her ability to determine any revenge the Capitol will take on her and what role she may be playing for any rebellions afoot. In this regard, the reader would like to slap some sense into her. But it doesn't minimize the well written tale, again respectfully read by McCormick. The description of violence is somewhat more graphic than The Hunger Games, but still handled in a way that young adults should be able to manage. I recommend this book as highly as The Hunger Games and even suggest that if you haven't read either them, buy them both together. The cliffhanger at the end of Catching Fire will make you impatient for August 2010, the scheduled release date for the third book, title as yet unknown.