Getting ready for school and reading YA fiction

I feel the pressure of a new school year approaching and, maybe you have noticed  I've already started having some troubles with the daily or regular updating of my blogs. I haven't met my new  (4!) or old  (2) classes yet, but I'm working on my lesson-plans for the first weeks.
The two class groups I already had last year were assigned  their first book, entire book, in English to read during the summer. Tough job, I know, for foreign students. So, to gild the pill and make them undertake the task more willingly, I suggested a list of very popular YA novels (HERE): each of the students picked up one book. I had to read them all, of course. How could I test them on something I knew nothing about? Now, it was such a pleasant, exciting, entertaining journey that I will not dare complain or regret. I only hope my students didn't hate it, at least.
I am currently trying to finish Beautiful Creatures. Though I saw the movie and didn't like it very much, I found the book brilliant, instead. The latest one I completed was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and I found it smart and engaging, too.
You know, I read a lot when I was a child and a young girl, but, while reading these popular YA fiction novels in the late 2 years,   I often found myself thinking "we didn't have so many good books especially written for us when we were teenagers, so thrilling, entertaining and gripping". We read the classics and they were great formation, only it was sometimes difficult to find your own voice in them. A teenager's turmoil can be mirrored by classic heroes and heroines too, of course, and you can learn much from them in your inexperience. However, true is I wished I had had the chance to read these books when I was target audience.

The Hunger Games (book 1) by Suzanne Collins

Book Blurb

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The 'tributes' are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature

My musings

Reading the book after watching the movie didn't disturb me at all. I never read just for the plot and don't mind spoilers. My response to the story was even more positive than after watching the film. I liked the characterizations of Katniss and Peeta and their psychological introspection. Everything is much clearer in the book: relationships, decisions, implications and consequences. Two adjectives come to my mind first for this book: smart and engaging. As for my musings, I have to replicate what I wrote in my movie review because now I'm even more convinced of what I said:
I started watching this film with some reticence and  a few prejudices due to what I had heard about both the books and the movie.  I honestly went on watching with interest and finding it thought - provoking if not a masterpiece. I went on thinking of it as a metaphor and comparing it to terrible dystopian books I've read and taught in all these past years. Books like Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Have you ever read it? The protagonists are kids, brutal and violent kids,  living in a desert island after a plane-wreck. Or I thought of Burgess's A Clockwork Orange and its incredibly violent, pitiless young protagonists. But here in this book/movie the protagonists are actually victims of grown-up people's pitiless schemes. The young heroine, Katniss Everdeen,  and her mate, Peeta Mellark,  don't accept to become pitiless and they hold on to great values. They believe in loyalty, solidarity, love. The real brutal ones are the adults who force them to take part in their horrible "hunger games" and watch them kill each other in a reality TV shows. It can really be a metaphor of the awful world we adults have made up for our children, which is so competitive, aggressive, materialistic and vain. But do they still believe in love and good values? I really think so. I know many teenagers. They are quite disoriented by the schizophrenic messages they got from those who are supposed to educate them, like parents and teachers, in other worlds adults.  Young people don't have an easy task when they look around for great  models. I wouldn't ban The Hunger Games from young people's shelves,   I'd love to read and discuss both books and movies with them. 

No comments: