Thursday, October 15, 2009

Conflict of interest

Nobody needs my opinion of the wildly popular and bestselling The Hunger Games and its sequel Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Not with reviews everywhere from Time magazine and Entertainment Weekly to the New York Times and Booklist raving about both.

But I just finished Catching Fire yesterday, and I'm still trying to sort out how I feel about these two books. In both cases, I read them against my better judgment. I started because I wanted to see why Hunger Games was getting so much praise. It's part of what I do to stay on top of the young adult market. But these aren't my kind of books. I really don't enjoy violence, and they're about innocent teenagers being forced to fight to the death. There's a lot of pain and blood, and the horrors are very realistically drawn without being overly graphic. I was practically reading with one eye shut.

After finishing Hunger Games and passing it on to Abbie, I could have stopped. Surely one book was sufficient for my market research and craft study. But I chose to read Catching Fire , too. And I read the whole thing in about three days. It's that compelling. I found it hard to put the book down -- hard to even catch my breath. So they're good books, clearly. Strong characters, a theme I love (the exploited rising up in rebellion) and pacing that never falters.

But I'm conflicted. Do I like these books, or do I hate them? I have a few complaints about them -- not being a fan of cliffhanger endings, for one thing -- but those are small. Do I recommend you read them? I really can't say. You'll have to trust the NYT Book Review.

I'm going to have to make up my mind about how I feel at some point, though. Because the third book comes out next year.