In Which a Year of Eager Anticipation Comes to an End

Readers, I apologize for being a day late with this, but I needed the time to recover from what was a very long night following my trip to see The Hunger Games.

This post will come in two parts: part description of what I did, part review of the movie itself.

What you have to understand is that it was my birthday this Friday (yes, I know, Happy Birthday to me.  Thank you).  As such, it was basically the GREATEST THING EVER when I found out last year that THG was going to premiere on March 23.

So, yeah.  Anyway, I got to the theater with a bunch of my friends and saw the movie.  My friends are great and I loved being there with them, even though on one side we had the Girl Who Thinks We Won’t Notice Her Texting Every Twenty Minutes, and on the other we had the Guy Who Feels the Need to Tell His Buddy What’s Gonna Happen Five Seconds Before It Happens.  Not to mention the Girls Who Giggle Every Time We See Gale Because He’s SOOOO HAWT.

At least it wasn’t boring in the theater.

I had worked on a shirt all week, which I wore with my hair in a braid and with my Scholastic mockingjay pin attached to it.  Here are some pictures of the shirt after I finished with it:

What I basically did is read through the book again and pick out funny or moving quotes that I liked and then use fabric paint to write them.  The logo and “stay alive” bits were made using iron-on paper on which we printed the picture and words.

After we saw the movie, we came back to my house and had cake.  The cake is the thing I really wanted to show you guys.  It’s GORGEOUS:

The words are a couple of lyrics from Rue's Lullaby: "Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true. Here is the place where I love you."

It was based on a cake I had found on the Internet:

I can't find the original source, but needless to say this isn't mine.

I think the one I had looks better, though.  THE FLAMES!

Okay.  Second part.  The review.  I’ll try to do it as spoiler-free as I can (meaning my general reaction):

It was a decent movie.  Of course, I knew it wouldn’t be just like the book going in, but I didn’t anticipate the changes they did make.  Don’t get me wrong, they still had the core of the story in there, and most things were just like in the book.  But it was the little changes that got me.  There was some stuff cut that I didn’t think should have been cut, and some things were changed that I wasn’t okay with, but other things I liked seeing changed.

Maybe it was just that my expectations were so high.  I let myself think everything would be amazing and perfect and exactly like the book, and it just wasn’t.  In the end, I’m a tad disappointed, but I’m happy with the film all the same.  The acting is super, super amazing and I think Gary Ross did a fine job of capturing the situation these people are in.  I can’t wait to see what they do with Catching Fire.

HERE’S THE SPOILER-Y BIT.  Look under the cut only if you’ve seen the film!

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An Everyday Literary Miracle

Readers, the impossible has occurred.

But let’s start at the beginning.

I guess it started when I was in the midst of planning with whom I am going to see The Hunger Games.  We were trying to figure out how many people we could fit in the minivan and thus how many I could invite once we subtracted attending family members.

Me: So I figure I can invite five people, assuming it’s me and you and Brother 1 going.

Mom: Well, Brother 2 wants to come as well.  So you can invite four people.

Me: What?  Brother 2?  He’s too young!  This is why they put the whole 13 after the PG in the ratings.  He is not 13.

Mom: Is the movie going to be inappropriate?

Me: Mom.  You’ve heard me talking about this for, like, over a year now.  IT’S SUPER VIOLENT.

Mom:  Yeah, but it’s not going to be really gory, is it?  Brother 2 can handle a little violence.

Me:  Sigh.  Okay, Mom?  Here’s what we’re gonna do.  You’re going to read this book, and then you can see for yourself, and you can decide whether Brother 2 can see it or not.

Readers, what you have to understand is my mother does not read.  As far as I know, she has not finished a novel since high school, when they made her.  It’s always been a little frustrating for me when I’m excited about a book and she doesn’t really get it, because books have never appealed to her.  She’s a wonderful person, but yeah, she just isn’t the book nerd type.

You can imagine both my surprise and my skepticism, then, when a couple of days later she was all:

Mom:  Okay, I have some free time.  Are you going to give me that book?

And you won’t think it strange, readers, when I was subsequently all:

Me:  …What?!

She insisted, despite my astonishment, that she was determined to read The Hunger Games.  I wasn’t so sure.  I even went so far as to make up a schedule of how many chapters she would need to read each week in order to finish by the time we saw the movie.  However, she didn’t seem to need it.  By the end of that week she had read maybe eight chapters.

Imagine my surprise, then, when she finished it in the course of maybe another week.  And then when she asked me if I would lend her Catching Fire, the second book in the trilogy.

At this point I was thoroughly and pleasantly surprised by the turn of events.  I had never expected this.  She had finished a book, okay.  But then she liked it.  Enjoyed it so much that she now wanted to CONTINUE THE SERIES.  I was determined not to crush this little flame of literacy.  And so I gave her the second one.  And when she finished that a couple of days ago, I gave her the third.

That’s right.  My very own mother is reading Mockingjay.

I’m very excited about this, readers.  It’s always so awesome to see someone else enjoying a book I’ve recommended to them, but it’s even more awesome because this is my mom.  There’s absolutely nothing in the world like seeing her engrossed in the final book, asking me if so-and-so is still alive, wondering what’s going to happen.

Anyway, she’s on track to finish Mockingjay before we go see the movie for the first book next week (which, by the way, I will have a detailed and very fangirly post about the day after).  Which brings me to my next question: what should she read next?  I’d like to see if she would want to read any other books like she did this one.  She’s talked about trying Harry Potter since that’s another big thing in our house, and I think it’s a splendid idea.  However, I’d love a second opinion if you’d like to leave a comment.

Happy reading.

Is This A Kissing Book?

Readers, I’m proud today to be kicking off this month’s Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain.  Honoring Valentine’s Day and Cupid and whatnot, this time around the theme is:

What are your thoughts on romance for your typical genre?  Do you tend to have a little, a lot, or none at all?

I’m not sure if I really have a typical genre, but I suppose lately the majority of what I’ve been writing is dystopian (yes, technically a subgenre, but you can’t expect me to simply call it sci-fi when dystopia is barely that).  Ah, yes, Dystopia, Land of the Love Triangles.  With such hits as The Hunger Games and Matched featuring this particular shape, it’s no wonder I’m perfectly okay with a bit of romance in my reading.  Even novels in this category that don’t favor three sides to their relationships have some sort of love story mixed into the plot.

Love is sort of hard to avoid in the future, it seems.

Writing is much the same.  When I write something like this, sure, I’ll have some romance here and there.  It’s my opinion that every great book has at least some such aspect to it.  However, just as The Hunger Games leaves its share of infatuations in the background in order to focus on the larger plot at hand, a dystopia shouldn’t just be about the kissing.  A dystopian novel, almost by definition, is about a group of oppressed people making a stand against a corrupt and unlawful society.  It’s about fighting back and being strong in the face of adversity.  It does not leave room for the main characters to be obsessing over whether their crush is going to call them or not.

Readers, this is something that must be kept in the right balance in order for it to work.  I understand that in stories, people do find each other, and yes, maybe they fall in love.  That’s okay.  A lot of times it might even be better for the overall arc of the story to put that in there.  In dystopia, though, the romance angle must be kept backseat to the larger plot, which is of course fighting aforementioned corruption.  That’s how I try to write my dystopias.

Of course, that being said, I should probably address the preferred geometric state of my characters’ love lives.  As attractive as it may seem to include one to mix up the plot a little, love triangles are a bit overdone in my opinion.  I mean, essentially they were run into the ground by the whole Twilight/Teams thing, and although that’s not even in the same genre as dystopia, it seems to me that any book today featuring a triangle will inevitably be compared with the Saga. (For more of my opinion on love triangles and Teams, see this post.)  Sure, I’ve considered a love triangle, but to actually put one in my writing would require a lot more thought and planning in order to make it seem somehow different from all the other ones out there.

I mean, really?

In the end, though, this post isn’t about triangles.  This is about how much love and romance and such I like in my dystopian writing in general.  My verdict is this: it’s all right when doled out in small portions.  Even in a terrifying future, people can get together and break up and marry each other.  However, dystopia should very rarely, if ever, feature this in the forefront.  That’s the job of the action and politics that form the core of this genre.

Most of that isn’t a problem for me, since I’m not what you’d call a romantic type.  I’m in no way a poster child (poster writer?) for a Valentine’s Day-type novel.  I do find it interesting, though, that our society seems to think that romance must be in any book that’s halfway good.  What if writers of this genre moved away from the relationships?  I’d like to see a dystopian series that has none of that kind of love in it, just to see if the story by itself can still be just as good.  Say, that gives me an idea…

Happy reading.

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(Eclectic Reader) Challenge Accepted

Readers, today’s post comes to you in three parts.

Part One: The Challenge

Becky from over at Blogs-of-a-Bookaholic posted a while ago about the Eclectic Reader Challenge 2012, and as that year draws ever nearer it’s time I officially announced my undertaking of it.  Go here to see the page where the Challenge originated.  Essentially, those who take on this challenge must be willing to go outside their literary comfort zones and read at least one book from each of the following genres:

  1. Literary Fiction
  2. Crime/Mystery Fiction
  3. Romantic Fiction
  4. Historical Fiction
  5. Young Adult
  6. Fantasy
  7. Science Fiction
  8. Non Fiction
  9. Horror
  10. Thriller /Suspense
  11. Classic
  12. Your favorite genre

…and all by December 31, 2012, or December 21 if I want to be eligible for a prize at the end of it.  It sounds quite interesting, and I can’t wait to see what books I read because of this.  The only thing I’m a bit worried about is writing a decent review for each book.  You may have noticed that I don’t write reviews here normally.  That’s because I’m really awful at it.  Oh well!  Time to learn!

I’ll be following Becky’s example and creating a tab at the top of the Novel Journeys page to track my progress throughout the year, so stay tuned for that!

Part Two: The Award

I’d like to thank Kirsten over at Kirsten Writes! for giving me the Don’t Read This Blog at Work Award.  Here are the rules of this particular award:

  1. You may nominate no more than three bloggers, each of whom must have made you laugh out loud with at least one post.
  2. Those who receive the nominations may consider themselves as having received the award, and they must post a gushing acceptance speech thanking the person who nominated them, and perhaps thanking any companion animals they may blog about.
  3. Those who receive the award may, but need not, pass on the award, but will not themselves be eligible again until they have published at least ten more posts.

So, here goes said gushing acceptance speech:

“I’d like to thank Kirsten for giving me this prestigious award.  I’m bursting with happiness and gratitude that you think I’m funny enough to deserve this.  I’m not often humor-oriented here, but when I do post something that’s supposed to be funny it’s nice to know that other people like it and are laughing and not just me.  Anyway, Kirsten, thank you.  So much.  I’m glad you enjoy the ol’ blog.  I just…” *holding back tears* “I’m just so happy!  Thank you!  Thank you!”  *bows and scurries to sit down*

There!  That’s enough gushing for one day, yes?

Exactly.  Now, the rules say that I’m not required to pass on this award, and so I’m not going to.  Don’t think this is because there aren’t any wonderful and humorous blogs out there, because there are.

That Liebster award was only a short while ago, at any rate.  If you want to look at some blogs that I like and that deserve attention, please refer to that post.

Part Three: The Song

Time for a Hunger Games update!  Yesterday I discovered this amazing song, which is the first song we have from the official movie soundtrack, was released only Thursday, and which, within 24 hours, TOPPED THE SINGLES CHART ON ITUNES, and is still at the top as far as I know.  Without further ado:

I would love to get your reactions, readers.  What do you think of the song (not to mention the fact that Taylor Swift is on the soundtrack)?  Most importantly, where can you imagine this being fit in during the film?  For me, it definitely goes with Rue’s death, or rather, shortly thereafter.  Some, though, seem to think it’s for the cave scenes with Katniss and Peeta, and I’ll admit that’s a possibility (but I don’t believe it myself).

And that’s all I have for you today, readers.  In light of what tomorrow is, I’ll be posting next on Monday instead.

Merry Christmas and happy reading.

It’s Going To Be Tense

Get it?  Tense?

*crickets chirping*

No one?  Oh, come on.  It’s literary humor!

…Okay, okay, I admit that was a bit unnecessary.  But it was my way of awkwardly introducing today’s topic.

The question is: past or present tense?

Books have traditionally been written in the past tense (he said, the dog jumped, I sat).  Lately, though, I’ve noticed a trend in young adult literature, which is that increasingly, books are written in the present tense (he says, the dog jumps, I sit).  I first noticed this with The Hunger Games, which is probably no surprise to you readers if you’ve been with me for a while.  (If you haven’t, I LOVE The Hunger Games and talk about it WAY TOO OFTEN.)  This series is written all in present tense, which I think helps to put the reader in the middle of the action and gives an increased sense of involvement with the story.  After all, we don’t live our lives in past tense, right?  Although you could make the argument that technically we live in present progressive tense…

Spanish class: killing all my arguments with basic grammar lessons.

This is a really good book. I think the second one is out now, too.

Anyway.  Since reading The Hunger Games last summer I’ve noticed this trend continues with other books.  Divergent, another INCREDIBLE dystopian novel, is written like this.  So, I think, is Matched, although I don’t own that one so I can’t make sure.

But here’s the strange bit: all of these novels are dystopian.  Readers, if you’ve read any present-tense non-dystopian novels, please comment and correct me, but for now I’m going to go with the assumption that ALL PRESENT TENSE NOVELS TAKE PLACE IN THE FUTURE.

When I think about this, it actually makes a lot of sense.  I mean, books written in present day or in the past can be said to have already happened, so naturally you would use past tense.  But novels like Divergent and Matched happen in the future.  They can’t technically be said to have “happened” yet (I say “happened” with quotations because they’re fiction and thus will never actually happen).  Therefore, it would make sense when writing the novel would be to put it in present tense, as if you’re writing it as it happens.  Past tense, to me, would just sound strange for something that is set in a future time.

At least, that’s the argument I came up with when wondering why exactly authors would choose to do this.  Another reason could be aforementioned placement in the action of the story, or even because that’s just the “thing to do” nowadays.

Does this make sense to you, readers?  Or am I just mindlessly babbling like always?

I’m sorry if the latter is true.  It’s just that I’ve had this on my mind for a while, especially since I love this type of novel so much.  I feel like I need to finally get this out there and get someone else’s opinion on it.  So, readers, please, fill up that comment box with your thoughts.  Am I going crazy?  Or are dystopian books nowadays simply destined for the present tense?

Here’s another thought: should present tense be used at all?  I think it’s an effective way of getting a story out there.  I’ve even written in present tense.  I personally like it, but maybe not all of you think the same way.

Okay, so I did a Google search some extensive, in-depth research into this matter, and I found this article, which names at least two older books (Jane Eyre and Bleak House) that use present tense at least in part.  But as far as I know, these two don’t use it all the time, which is what I’m mainly concerned with.  But still.  Good to know.  And here’s another site that also deals with the subject.

Happy reading!

UPDATE: Liam, whose blog is This Page Intentionally Left Blank, has informed me via the comments that there ARE, in fact, modern-day books written in the present tense (The Mother-Daughter Book Club).  Thanks for clearing that up for us, Liam.

Keep Calm and Wait for the Trailer

Yes, yes, I know I didn’t post yesterday.

But I had a good reason.  Good things come to those who wait, and this is no exception.

Behold:

*fangirl squealing*

Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system…I really don’t have words for this.  Everything here looks exactly like the book.  Even most of the dialogue is more or less out of the novel. I especially especially love the reaping (“I volunteer as tribute!”) and rooftop (“I just keep wishing…”) scenes.  Absolutely perfect.  And Effie’s Capitol accent?  Genius.

I know I’ve said it before, but: THIS MOVIE WILL BE AMAZING.

Side note: is Prim wearing the mockingjay pin at the Reaping?  It looks like it’s pinned to her shirt but I can’t tell.  I guess that’s how Katniss gets it in the film, seeing as how there’s apparently no Madge.

I guess this doesn't apply anymore...

Happy reading!

Insert “Profile Picture” Pun Here

or, Lionsgate Attempts to Appease Trailer-Hungry Fans.

On Thursday, there was much squealing and overexcited geek-outs within the Hunger Games fandom (or District 14, as I like to call it).  Why?  Because Lionsgate decided to come out of nowhere with eight new character posters for the movie, that’s why.

Perhaps inspired by the success of Panem October’s way of releasing the Panem ID cards for different characters through the medium of various websites, each character poster was officially unveiled at a different entertainment site.  But I won’t make you hunt down all those sites.  No, I’ll take care of that part and link you to all of the sources through this post.  Okay?  Good.

So.  Moving on.

My reactions to the posters?  Well, in general, I think they’re fantastic.  They really give a feel for what the movie and characters are going to be like.  To be honest, though, I would have loved to see Caesar Flickerman or Foxface included in the bunch as well.  (Who would have thought it would turn out to be the talk show host we’re all dying to finally see?)  Other than that, though, great job to Lionsgate on the lighting and such.  I love the darkness around the characters.

This is probably going to be a longer post, so look under the cut for my take on each poster!

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