Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reading as a job

This weekend I read. It was wonderful and it was work and it kept me from interacting with my family and it kept me from getting my homework done and it was wonderful!

I was totally immersed in the world of Gregor and the Underland.

This is a series of 5 books by Suzanne Collins. She is some kind of writer! I absolutely LOVED and HATED Hunger Games and Catching Fire! They were wonderful and awful and I couldn't put them down. They are also a more high school theme.

These books are also WONDERFUL and AWFUL! and I loved them and couldn't put them down. They are more focused on a Middle School audience.

I just want to say how amazed I am at Collins. She creates a world so detailed and interesting and repulsive and alluring all at the same time. Each of these stories made me so happy to live in the time and place that I do. But, each of these two very different settings haunted my thoughts and my imaginings for a long time.

Collins has a knack for creating characters that you really relate to. In Gregor some of those characters are giant cockroaches, rats and bats. Yes, you read correctly - giant bats. and they are the good guys!! Each of these characters are human sized and larger and they can all talk.

So how in the world do you bring life to a clicking cockroach? You have it become totally and completely mesmerized by a sweet two year old girl and then have the little girl be as taken by the cockroaches. Weird and wonderful...

Gregor is an eleven year old boy who is drawn in to the prophecies of the Underland as their new warrior. He is called on to be so much more than his 11 years should need to - but he understands the responsibilities and really tries to live up to the Underlanders expectations. Yet, under all he is just a boy. He reminded me so much of Katniss in Hunger Games. Both were asked to carry devastating responsibilities for others and yet their true nature was not subverted!

The world of the Underland is constantly at war. Yet, there is a governing code of honor between species. When the line is crossed late in the 5th book it is devastating and brutal. Contrast that to the world of the Hunger Games where the very idea of children fighting to the death is not really a code of honor - but rather brutal survival and anything goes.

Even though they may sound a bit gruesome, I would recommend both of these series with no reservations. They are amazing.

When I finished reading the 5th Gregor book today, I felt a bit hollow. Although the series ends with this book, the story does not. All the ends are not tied up. The imminent danger is passed, but life is not all neat and tidy.

I think that is my favorite part of all of Collins books. Life is not all neat and tidy, but the characters don't expect that. Rather they are immersed in ebb and flow of life - and the never ending cycle of war and peace and war and peace.

Maybe that is the real theme of all of these Collins books regardless of the series. Ending the cycle into which you have been born. Opening your eyes and helping those around open theirs as well. Seeing what the possibilities are - hard as they might be. But, really imagining a future that is different from where you are. It's hard work to create and sustain that future! That's the part that I like!

So - Suzanne Collins... You rock!!!

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