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Why I Didn’t Read the Hunger Games

This post was originally published on May 27, 2014.

Back in early 2012, I was working on the second draft of Counteract. That draft was considerably more detailed than my first attempt, and I found it helpful to chart the many twists and turns that led to the climax of the story as I worked the new information into the manuscript. I had post-it notes lined up in rows on my office wall, where I could add to them and re-arrange them at will. I had flow charts and notes that tracked each character’s movements through the OCSD headquarters.

So one day, in the middle of all that, my husband said to me, “I’m reading this really great dystopian series. You’d like it. Have you heard of The Hunger Games?” I hadn’t. Mostly because I’d been under a rock while I was writing. But the movie was due out in March 2012. He said I should read it, quickly, so we’d both be up to speed when we went to see it.

But I balked.

I hate following driving directions. I get lost all the time. I swear I can hear my GPS heave a sigh of resignation every time I get behind the wheel. If I had three wishes, my first would be to intuitively know how to get everywhere.

It stresses me out to drive someplace I’ve never been before, especially when some well-meaning person says, “You can’t miss it…” Because of course, I will. Guaranteed. Sometimes I have a pretty good idea of where I’m going, but someone else’s input can throw me off, even though they only mean to be helpful.

“Turn left out of the parking lot, then in .65 miles you need to make a right, then an immediate left, then get into the southbound lane because you’re going to need to merge and then bear to the…”
Okay—just stop. Please. You lost me. I’ll forget which way out of the parking lot by the time I get back in the car. If it has more than two turns, my brain shuts down.

That’s why I didn’t read The Hunger Games. At least, not at that particular moment. I had a pretty good idea where I was going, and I didn’t want to be swayed by the story my husband was raving about.

We saw The Hunger Games film the weekend it came out, and I was mesmerized. I hyperventilated with Katniss as she rose through the glass cylinder to face her opponents. Then I went home and devoured the books.

I’d held off because I didn’t want to be influenced by the current hot title in my genre. Turns out, I needn’t have worried. While it’s true that books in this genre use similar themes and symbols, each author brings their own experience and ideas to their story. And there’s plenty of room on the library shelf for many, many more.


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