Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Hunger Games and Jack White (Yeah, to me they go together)

What I'm Writing: In the Shadow of Olympus (60K in - maybe another 10K to write)
What I'm Reading: Just finished Mockingjay this morning - I think I'm ruined for other books for at least a week
What I'm Knitting: Ugh

I spent the last eight days devouring the Hunger Games trilogy of books. Yep, eight days in a dystopian YA world - can't be good for the psyche, can it? :)

I don't remember a series of books capturing my attention so completly since my first read-through of the Harry Potter books. At least with this, there are only three and they are already all in print, so I wasn't playing the waiting game (thank goodness).

Anyway, for those of you who aren't familiar with the books, here's a blurb:
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival.

Suzanne Collins has done an awesome job in these books of finding a character voice that holds the reader and doesn't let go.

Speak to me and don't speak softly
Talk to me and let me know
Grab hold of my shoulder and tell me
Grab hold and do not let go
(Raconteurs - Jack White Vocals - song: These Stones Will Shout Out. written by Brendan Benson)

So what does this have to do with Jack White? Maybe it's all in the timing for me. You see, at the same time I was reading the books, Mark made me a mix CD of some of his favorite songs that I also like. Most of the CD is either White Stripes or Raconteurs (two of Jack's band). I don't think I ever listened closely to many of these songs until I was alone in the car traveling back and forth to work - and then many of them blew me away.

One song in particular, the White Stripes Same Boy You've Always Known is a punch in the gut to me every time I hear it. The lyrics are so sad and Jack's voice so amazing that when the song ends on:
And if there's anything good about me
I'm the only one who knows

I'm pretty well gutted.

Think about that line...

How utterly sad is it for anyone to believe that about themselves? And that's kind of how Katniss in Hunger Games feels about herself on more than one occasion (and really, sometimes she just doesn't think she even knows anything good about herself). I swear, this song (or at least parts of it) should be in the Hunger Games movie when it's made.

You fell down of course
and then you got up of course
and you started over
forgot my name of course
then you started to remember
(The White Stripes - Same Boy You've Always Known)

For anyone who's read Hunger Games, that line could probably refer to Katniss or Peeta at various times in the book.

(Take a short break right now and watch a video of Same Boy You've Always Known- and then tell me that last line doesn't affect you - really, do it!)

Do I sound fangirly enough? I do? Good! Because I am.
It's funny, but I think Hunger Games and Jack White now will be forever entwined in my mind - I guess that's not a bad thing.

And now that I'm thinking about it (and giggling to myself), I suppose White Stripe's song You're pretty good looking, for a girl could be a good one for Katniss when she's being all re-made for TV.

Oh yeah you're pretty good looking for a girl
but your back is so broken
and this feeling's still gonna linger on
until the year 2525 now
(White Stripes - You're Pretty Good Looking, For a Girl)

Oh, and wow on the books being written first-person present tense. It was a bit wierd to get used to at first, but then the writing gave such rapidfire movement to the books that who can complain, really?

(And one caveat - I've talked about this to some writer friends (specifially Jeanette) - but it really irks me when problems in novels are solved too easily, or solved outside of the MCs sphere of influence. I mean I love Tolkien and Rowlings, but really, how many times can Giant Eagles or magical Phoenixes come to the rescue when the MC is backed into a corner? How many times can some magical law - unknown until then - step in to save the day? In the Hunger Games, there's a bit of that - though not magic - instead it's little silver parachutes bringing necessities - 'nough said).

Okay, I think I'm officially done rambling, but, yeah, if you want a good read, then try the Hunger Games Trilogy (Hunger Games, Catching  Fire, Mockingjay) (and listen to Jack White in between reading sessions - see if you're convinced).


  1. I'll definitely listen to him with a sharper ear now. Glad you enjoyed the series.
    The funny thing about the third person present tense, is that I didn't notice it until the third book. It was that well done. Sometimes it can just be a disaster, but with as many emotions and action in the books, it was the perfect fit.

  2. Thanks for visiting, Vickie!
    Yes, I do think it was the perfect fit, setting the pacing so well.