I know I am not being original by talking about “The Hunger Games” series, but stay with me, I know where I'm going.
Why is this series so special to me, you may ask? Is it maybe because of the publicity? No, I didn't even know about the book when my friend recommended it to me. I'll tell you why.
I love books. I devour books, I breathe books, ever since I was little. I got it from my parents, who always kept a huge library at home and they didn't have to force me to read. As a matter of fact, they took me to libraries, bought me books, showed me the way to life. I always remember how my dad, that was working in publishing at the time, would bring me the classics way before my classmates and I would read them at school. I read Camus' “Stranger” two years before our philosophy teacher suggested it. And like that, many others. But I did have a preference for Young Adult literature.
When I was sixteen I started taking drama classes at a cultural center in my neighborhood and all my friends were avid readers. Finally, I belonged to a group of people that understood me, where I could talk about books, and share our passion! They were the ones who first mentioned “Hopscotch” to me (Julio Cortazar, a writer that changed my life), and Herman Hesse's “Demian” and Kafka's “The Trial”. These where not YA books. These we serious books, the “good” books. My life turned into a different direction. I, that always thought was going to study journalism following my father's steps, started considering Literature. My parents didn't oppose at all, they saw me reading and writing night and day. Yes, I was passionate about literature. Until I started college.
You see, you have to learn everything in college. Old books, boring books and rarely, good books. Don't get me wrong, I am not criticizing the literary canon, but these books, I felt, didn't hit me. They didn't shake my ground. They might have been significant for the people in that epoque, but they weren't significant to me. And a lot depended, too, on how the Professor would teach. Some had zero passion and that affected our perspective on the books. But others, like our Spanish Literature teacher, that was eighty and blind, would not need notes to give her class, she loved what she did so much that I will never forget the Mio Cid and how much he loved his wife Ximena. But others, well, let's better not get into those Professors.
Not to mention, deadlines. When you have to read a book rushing, with lack of sleep and for a specific date, passion goes away. Those four years of college made me hate books. I couldn't stand another one. I wanted to finish, I regretted my decision. I don't now, but it took some time to heal.
In between reading for my last thesis, I got a hold of “The Hunger Games”. Ok, it's not an experimentation with language like in “Hopscotch” or “The Time's Arrow” by Martin Amis, but is is pretty close to a “Brave New World” (Adouls Huxley) or Ray Bradbury dystopian books. No! I am not putting them together, relax, I am just saying, creative-wise. It's not a master piece when it comes to innovation of words, tricky time line, dark and complicated plot; it's simple, it's lineal for the most part, but the story blew me away, even though, I know, I know, I heard it's not that original.
It doesn't matter. What matters is the effect that had in me. It revived that passion I had lost, it re lit the candle. It gave me hope. That there are some books out there that will do what they used to do to me when I was younger. That allowed me to travel, to dream, to live other lives (I know it sounds cheesy but it's true, why else do we read if not for that?).
When I start a book and can't put it down even to eat or when if I have to put it down I day dream about it, I call that a good book. You may not trust my opinion, but you can try me. I doubt you won't like the books I recommend. “The Hunger Games” also inspired me to keep on writing, when life sometimes takes a toll of that passion as well. To keep on going...