As part of my attempt not to “backslide” into reading young-adult fiction at my advanced age, I resisted Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series for the longest time. Well, I resisted The Hunger Games (the first book) for a while – till Catching Fire came out last summer, anyway. Then I bought both books, but held off on reading them until the Fall 2009 24-Hour Readathon; they were an ideal choice. I couldn’t last the full twenty-four hours, though, so I had to finish reading Catching Fire the next day.
When I finished both books, I handed them to my 15-year-old stepdaughter, saying, “You are going to read these.” And she did. And she loved them…except for the part where she had to wait until August of 2010 to read the third book in the series. But in the meantime, she made her two best friends read them. And they loved them. And we all had to wait for August of 2010.
Eventually, I got Katie her own copies of the first two books, because I wanted mine back and things that go into her room have been known never to emerge again. At the same time, I pre-ordered Mockingjay, and we agreed it was probably best to get two copies.
While the release of the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy is causing slightly less of a worldwide frenzy than, say, the last couple of Harry Potter books, there are many, many people eager to read it (as of this weekend, it was the #1 pre-order at Amazon.com). My pre-order backfired on me just a bit, though; while all of my pre-ordered Harry Potter books were delivered on their release date, Mockingjay isn’t scheduled to ship out until its official publication day of August 24. My pre-ordered copies have shipped and are scheduled to arrive by publication day, but I won’t be dropping everything to read mine – I want to finish my re-read of Children of God first, since we’re wrapping the Read-Along up next Monday. But at least I’ll have it well before the weekend, and with luck I’ll get a shot at starting it then. Katie will get her copy the day it arrives – she’s not back at our house till tomorrow; if she can’t start it sooner because of homework, I’m pretty sure she’ll be reading it by Friday – she doesn’t have classes on Fridays.
No one really knows what to expect from the conclusion to this story, and spoilers have been suppressed quite effectively. We’ve seen Katniss compete in two consecutive Hunger Games – could she possibly be in a third? Or will the Games be merely a backdrop to the burgeoning rebellion? What’s the story with District 13? We have to trust that the author will bring us along for the ride just as well as she has before.
Of course, some readers are all about the ‘shipping, and for them, the biggest question of all is whether Katniss will end up with Peeta or Gale. I’ve noticed something interesting about the sides people have taken on that one: Team Peeta seems to be comprised of younger women (30 and under), while women in my own demographic seem choose Team Gale. I think one reason for that is that at different stages of our lives, we look for different things in men. Of course, I’m sure there are plenty of individual exceptions to that finding, but I’m not one of them – I have publicly declared for Team Gale. Meanwhile, Katie’s friend Heather is staunchly Team Peeta. Katie, on the other hand, has placed herself on Team Katniss Stays Single. If pushed, however, she’ll ally herself with Team Cinna, since he’s her favorite character. In any case, it’s safe to say that this question is unlikely to be addressed to universal satisfaction.
It’s also safe to say that for the next few weeks, a lot of people will be talking about Mockingjay. Will you be one of them?