The Hunger Games: A Modern Fairy Tale?

Victorian woman reading

I have been caught up in the hubbub surrounding The Hunger Games. Members of my book club are planning to go see the movie after Spring Break, and I can’t wait. We’re thinking that this will give teens a chance to go see it, so we aren’t the oldest people in the theater. (We might be the oldest despite putting it off!) I’ve seen many movie adaptations of books I’ve read, so I used a gift card to buy the whole trilogy for my Nook to try to read at least the first book before I see the movie.

I first heard about The Hunger Games a while ago. I had been avoiding reading the books, mostly because I had heard that it involved a fight to the death among teenagers. Reading this post about the movie’s rating on BlogHer reminded me of this reason. As a mom and a teacher, I really don’t want to read about teens killing other teens.

I’m reminded, however, of the kind of stories I used to love. Original fairy tales held such allure for me, and were so different from the Disney movies. One of my favorite stories was Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl”. This poor little child freezes to death at the end of the story, and is brought to Heaven to be with her grandmother. Fairy tales were told orally and passed down from one generation to the next, and so were changed by the tellers. One of the endings of Snow White has the wicked step mother dance to death in red hot iron shoes as her due reward for her wickedness. Hansel, locked up in a cage, uses a bone to fool the nearly blind witch that he is not getting fat enough for her to eat him. Fairy tales are pretty gruesome, aren’t they?

When I was in high school, I graduated to books like Lois Duncan’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, about a group of teenagers involved in a hit and run scenaro. She also wrote Killing Mr. Griffin, a book about teens intended to scare a disliked teacher only to accidentally kill him off. These books were not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

It is in remembering these stories that I know why The Hunger Games trilogy has become so popular among its readers. I was drawn to similar stories when I was young, too. Why are these stories so appealing? Is it because we are facing our darkest fears? Perhaps, although some of those fears are darker than the ones I face in reality. Is it because of the way we think of ourselves? That we would be the ones strong enough and good enough and wise enough to survive?

While I have yet to read these books, I think I will forge ahead despite my reservations since upon reflection they sound just like the kind of story I have been drawn to in the past.

Have you avoided reading The Hunger Games like I have? Or have you read the book and seen the movie? What did you think?

Diary of a MAD fat Girl {BlogHer Book Club}

Picture yourself in a lounge chair wearing sunglasses, next to a glistening body of water, with a tall glass of sweet tea. Or a mint julep, if you prefer. This book is in your hands, and you will be unable to put it down. Diary of a Mad Fat Girl, a novel by Stephanie McAfee, is a book that you will give to a girlfriend to read, who will give it to another girlfriend, and so on, until it comes back to you with a broken spine, dog-eared and wavy from water damage.

Ace Jones does NOT lead a charmed life. Hence the word “mad” in the title. Not only does her best friend back out of a planned vacation to Panama City Beach at the last minute, but she risks losing her job because of her ill-tempered principal. Her other best friend is stuck in a love-less marriage, which has gone from verbally abusive to physically abusive. Throw in Ace’s tendency to devour pizza and guzzle beer when she’s upset, and you’ll know why she’s mad and fat.

Ace deals with all these problems and more in a hilarious way. Hilarious to the reader, that is. Ace’s love life is also full of twists and turns. Should she be with the coach she had an affair with, the surprisingly wealthy biker she met in the parking lot of a strip club, or her childhood sweetheart?? Warning to readers…this book does delve into explicit adult themes.

I had trouble with the descriptions of Ace as a teacher (no teacher can take a sick day on the spur of the moment without sub plans, and it seems as though Ace doesn’t teach in the entire book). I also felt like the book was about a hundred pages too long. I read the paperback edition, which had been expanded to 353 pages as opposed to the original 125 page ebook. While perhaps those extra pages improved the story, I felt the ending dragged on for too long.

Overall, though, Diary of a Mad Fat Girl was a quick, easy read, perfect for Spring Break.

Join the Diary of a Mad Fat Girl at BlogHer Book Club!


Disclosure: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.