The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

When the name “Primrose Everdeen” is called out at the lottery, Katniss volunteers to take her younger sister’s place as District 12’s female participant of the annual Hunger Games, a cruel punishment and system of oppression created by the government that rules the fictional country Panem. As heroic as Katniss’ act may sound, she is not portrayed as an idealized heroine. She is aggressive, selfish and always keeps her guard up, no matter what.

Collins creates a dystopia where Panem is what is left of North America after wars and natural disasters. Panem consists of twelve districts (the thirteenth district was allegedly destroyed years ago, in the old days of rebellion) and the Capitol, from which the entire nation is controlled. While most inhabitants of the districts live in poverty and starvation, the inhabitants of the Capitol enjoy life in luxury and exuberance. Every year the Hunger Games are arranged. A boy and girl of each district are sent to the arena, where they are forced to fight for their survival until only one of them is left alive.

I admit I was a bit sceptical towards The Hunger Games at first, due to the terrifying concept of the Hunger Games themselves. Twenty four children, some of them young adults, are thrown into an arena filled with weapons and deadly traps, where they are forced to kill each other, for the amusement of the shallow citizens of the Capitol. All of these young characters will have to perish and our main character will probably have to kill some of them. We get to know some of them closely, we come to care about them, and all of them will have to die in order for Katniss to live. I did not know how I could possibly like this story, but I was proven wrong. Even if the concept of the Hunger Games is filled with horror, the story was really worth reading. It is worth reading because of the horror of the Hunger Games.

The story is very dark and it’s subject matter is dealt with seriously. Perhaps some of the deaths in the arena are only brushed upon and dealt with quickly, but that is a result of the first-person perspective. Since Katniss is our narrator we only get her view of the battlefield. Due to this, we never know what threat awaits her around the corner, which adds to the thrill of the story. The story was a real page turner and made me want to read the sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

I felt like writing something sad and horrifying…

… today. It’s been a bit of a difficult day. No details necessary, nothing serious, just a few challenges that were overcome, although not without effort. I felt exhausted, angry, frustrated… then I thought, “hey – I’ll write something instead”.

A short story is now in the makings, a bizarre concoction of today’s events, completely transformed and transported to another place, another time. This is one of the big reasons why I write. I need to re-think and work through some of the things that happen in real life, to create a positive out of a negative. I guess this is the fuel that powers the strange machine inside my head that constructs stories.

Now I feel relieved.

I’ve finally sent my script to the publishers!

I know it is a long shot and I’m setting my mind up to expect a few polite refusals, but if you never try, you’l never succeed. A few months of hard work are now to be followed by a few months of waiting. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, I’m re-reading a story I wrote in last winter. Once I’ve read it and thought things through I’ll start the editing process on that story too.

Lucky 7 Challenge!

Skilled sci-fi author and blogger Kasia James has tagged me for the challenge of Lucky 7, a chance to show one’s writing only with one catch – you have to publish your text as it is at the time of the challenge, flaws and all. I just finished editing the novel I’ll be publishing a sample from, however as I’ve written my novel in swedish I’ve had to switfly translate the text to english. (So please excuse any strange words or expressions.)

This is how it works;

  • Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
  • Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 lines or sentences – as they are!!
  • Tag 7 other people to do the same

And this is an excerpt from my novel (fantasy for young adults) from page 7, line 7 and 7 lines on.

Her boots sunk sighing into the wet grass and came out of the lawn with a sucking noise as she lifted them. Behind her Felis spat and hissed, probably upset that she defied him.

     “Coward,” she hissed over her shoulder and felt a swooping sensation in her guts as she once again sensed something large and dark moving just a few metres away from her, beyond the tree line, as she moved closer to the pond with reckless steps.

     Brown shells crawled and cluttered the dense vegetation around the pond. Her red boots were shiny with wetness. The logs surrounding the pond were dark with moisture and covered with a thin coat of algea. In an act of pure youthful defiance she jumped up onto the slippery logs and balanced toward the place where she thought she had seen a shape, a shadow, a something.

I’m finding it difficult to choose 7 people to pass the challenge on to, so I’ll just say that anyone who reads this and feels like it should take it on.

A relationship as fragile as the living paper creatures holding it together.

I read a wonderful short story today. 2012-Hugo Award nominated The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu. It’s a story about shunning one’s cultural heritage, about fear of not fitting in, about parenthood. The mother’s ability to create living creatures out of paper is a subtle, yet grand form of magic that seems fully natural to her son, the narrator of the story, but this ability is not enough to hold his interest and as he ages his dislike for his mother’s heritage and her way of acting and speaking, which is so different from what is the norm in the society he grows up in, grows stronger. She is from the country-side of China, now they live in the USA. The mother’s struggle to connect with her son is as heart breaking as it is desperate. A painfully beautiful story.

You can read it online here, link found at the blog Worlds Without End.

Mysterious dragons, nightly terrors and silly situations…

… are what I found in John Scalzi’s “The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City (Prologue)”, a short story nominated for a 2012 Hugo Award. I’d never read anything by Scalzi before and so had no expectations when approaching the text, but was pleasantly surprised by the lovely tone of the narrator and the humor of the text.  I read the text online at Tor.com, here.

I first found the link in this blog post at Worlds Without End, where four other 2012 Hugo Award-nominated short stories are also listed and where they are available online. As they say on WWE, apparently “The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City (Prologue)” was published online by John Scalzi as an April-fools joke. Made me laugh!

And now I’ve finally finished editing…

… my novel. Wow. At long last. It took a while longer than I had expected, but now I feel that I am done with this particular story. A great feeling. Now to print and send to a few selected publishers.

One of the best aspects of finishing a novel or short story is the thrill in setting off to work with a new story, that next idea that has been brewing in one’s mind for some time. New ideas always seem to sparkle and shine, beautiful and perfect unlike the often flawed and dull ideas that made up the novel you’ve just been working on. Strange, isn’t it?