The Hunger Games/mainstream novels

“ALRIGHT ALREADY! You were right and I was wrong. Yes, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a fantastic book, and you have full rights to mock me because, after complaining about how this book wasn’t deserving of all its accolades, I am now in love with it.”

Or at least, that’s what I would have said to my friends if they weren’t so sweet and gracious enough to forget my annoying rants about The Hunger Games and refrain from saying “I TOLD YOU THAT ALREADY, SUCKER!” Instead, they just gushed with me about the amazingness of The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games is a fast-paced read that deals with a dystopian society, which seems to be a meld of reality TV and barbarianism. I don’t want to give too much away for those of you who still haven’t read it yet, but it’s certainly thrilling and gripping, to the point where I didn’t do any homework, study for any tests or go to sleep at a reasonable hour (read: stayed up until 2 am and only fell asleep because the iPad ran out of battery) because I was so engrossed in it. I even contemplated skipping school so I could read it.

However, it’s just that—just a book that’s exciting and filled with action. It doesn’t have any deeper meaning, and that is just as it should be since it’s a YA novel and doesn’t need to be packed with motifs, symbols and deep ideas…. which brings me to my next point.

In my English class a few days ago, my English teacher started talking about The Help, a book I found to be a wonderful and nice read. Apparently, she thought otherwise. Without explaining why, she told the class never to read The Help, and that it was not at all a good book.

Yes, we’re all entitled to our own opinions, but I had a feeling that the reason she didn’t like it was because she was reading it with the wrong mindset. The Help, while fabulous in its own way, is not a particularly deep or intellectual novel. It’s not even that historical, since many people from around that time state that the situation was much worse than the author, Kathryn Stockett, portrayed it to be. But besides all that, it is a good story about empowerment and finding your own voice.

That said, mainstream novels are not meant to be analyzed or critiqued the way classics are. I would never spend days poring over each color mentioned in The Hunger Games or ruminating over possible symbols in The Help. In fact, I finished The Hunger Games in just over one day, and I listened to The Help on an audiotape. I wonder if this is why my teacher didn’t like the book, and I wish that she had read it with the right mindset, because it is a good novel. Yes, it isn’t a work of art, but it’s a nice book that I enjoyed reading (or listening to, I guess).

Of course, I didn’t say that out loud because she’s an amazing teacher and I would never want to seem like I’m disrespecting her, but I did feel a little sad that we didn’t share the same opinion.

What about you? Have you ever read a book with the wrong sort of mindset and then revisited it later only to find that you love it?

The Hunger Games Rating: 3.5/5