BBW 2011: “Bad” Books I’ve Read Since BBW 2010

~~Banned Books Week (BBW) 2011 takes place September 24th-October 1st~~

In the past year (since Banned Books Week 2010), I have read ten books that have made the Top 100 Challenged Books for 1990-1999 and 2000-2009.

1) James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

2-6) five of the seven Harry Potter books by JK Rowling (#1-4, 7)

7-9) the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (the site only said The Hunger Games, so I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be the first or all three books)

10) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I know some of the challenges to To Kill a Mockingbird, as they are listed here. And I discussed them at length in my previous post, “BBW 2011: To Kill a Mockingbird thoughts.”

And I can guess that the reason a lot of adults challenge Harry Potter is because of the wizardry/witchcraft aspect; and maybe the dangerous situations Harry gets into, even fatal for some characters, aren’t “okay” for younger readers. I know my mom banned them in my childhood house because she apparently thought my sisters and I were too dimwitted to understand that Harry Potter is a boy from a story and that stories aren’t real.

But, as far as The Hunger Games goes, I’m really have a hard time trying to figure out what’s wrong with them. Katniss does find herself in some perilous situations and there’s that teenagers-all-trying-to-kill-each-other bit, which can be graphic. Now that I think about it, those “graphic” situations are quite worse in this than in Harry Potter. But I would have to say that I think the picture of the future of the world from this perspective would be the most controversial thing (at least in my mind). I mean, if I didn’t realize the difference between fiction and reality, I would be pretty worried that the world would come to the conditions described in this dystopic novel–moreso because those conditions led to all that violence. Okay, I can see that some adults might feel this is inappropriate for some younger readers. But, you know what? Worry about your own young reader, like my mom did when I was young. Ban it in your own house. It’s not your duty or right to keep someone else’s child/student from reading a book you think isn’t right. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system… 🙂

Oh, and I honestly don’t know what could be bad about James and the Giant Peach. Anyone want to enlighten me as to what could be wrong with such a fantastical story as living in a peach. If you don’t think it’s possible to live in a giant peach, you’ll probably understand any of the bit of violence towards James mentioned at the beginning of the story isn’t a violence in reality.

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Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

WARNING: The Hunger Games and Catching Fire spoilers!

TitleMockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: fiction (dystopic)
ISBN: 9780439023511
Length: 391 pages
Year Published: 2010
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: none

My posts about The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.

Summary:

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.

My Thoughts: I loved this third and final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy. I especially liked that each of the three books were so different from one another–there was essentially nothing predictable about any of these books. And the ending to this book proved just how unpredictable anything is in the trilogy. The suggestion of another round of Hunger Games to punish the Capitol was shocking–and the way Katniss voted on the issue also surprised me. And then Katniss killing a certain important someone. All things surprised me a lot.

I did find that sometimes I got confused when reading. Those times when Katniss herself was confused and trying to rationalize lots of things at the same time also confused me. But, in that respect, it made me like the story even more. Because the confusion I was feeling made me feel even more for Katniss. If I was a little confused, she would’ve been extremely confused. Which wasn’t helped by certain things–especially towards the end–being a bit rushed.

As far as the epilogue goes, I, of course, wrote about my feelings in my book journal before I read it. Although, when I began the book, I asked a couple of friends if I should read the epilogue–you may remember that epilogues scare me because they sometimes ruin the whole story for me. They told me to, so I did (after the initial reflection). And I really liked it. It didn’t exactly lay out the future with really specific things, just a general picture of Katniss’s life about 20 years past the end of the book.

~*~SPOILERS ABOUT PEETA VS. GALE~*~
Now I just have to tell you what I feel about the Peeta vs. Gale dilemma Katniss faced. I wasn’t actually gunning for one over the other, because Katniss herself never seemed to know which one she loved more than the other. But I was happy with the way things worked out. Peeta complimented Katniss and had characteristics that she lacked–Gale was, for the most part, exactly like Katniss and two such strong entities together couldn’t coexist for long. Although I was a little disappointed in the way things ended between Katniss and Gale. While they didn’t end on bad terms or anything, it seems like it was rather sudden. Gale living in District 2 after the revolution and Katniss living in District 12–their relationship just seemed a little unresolved to me. Almost as if, if they hadn’t gotten separated when they did, they could have easily ended up together. In this respect it sort of makes me wonder that, had they not been separated, would Katniss have chosen Peeta after all? Or did the situation of her and Gale already being separated sort of make that decision for her?
~*~END SPOILERS~*~

And, just because I agree with pretty much everything she said about the book, here is a link to Michelle’s review post about this book. (There are a lot of spoilers in it, FYI.) Michelle was also one of those friends who encouraged me to read the epilogue 🙂

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

WARNING: The Hunger Games spoilers!

TitleCatching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: fiction (dystopian)
ISBN: 9780439023498
Length: 391 pages
Year Published: 2009
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: none

Reason for Reading: Just have to continue the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins 🙂
My post about The Hunger Games.

Summary:

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol–a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

My Thoughts: I LOVE THIS BOOK!

I think that Catching Fire is more dystopic than The Hunger Games. The oppression of the government and the discord among the people of Panem is much more prevalent in this book than in the first. I found the first book great, though it seemed more of a survival story to me. The Hunger Games was actually mostly concerned with the Games, so I easily forgot that the government was behind the Games and even presented certain obstacles into the Games (such as the muttations).

I especially liked getting to know Katniss more in this book. The first book focused so much on Katniss in live-or-die situations and I think I didn’t get to know her very well. But there was more time to get to know her this time around, for which I am glad. And the situation with Peeta and Gale gets even more interesting as she finally decides which one she “loves”.

There was a lot more in this book that I didn’t expect. While reading The Hunger Games, I sort of knew how it would end because I know Katniss is in all three books. Granted I wasn’t certain of what was going to happen to Peeta…But with this book there was so much more going on. Yes, Katniss would have to survive the Quarter Quell to be in the third installment. But I had been hoping that the reason Haymitch’s use of the forcefield around his arena was mentioned and the chink in the forcefield Wiress and Beetee explained to Katniss would mean that there would be some sort of escape (which I was sort of right about). And the actual Games this time around were surprising, as far as what the Gamemakers put in the arena goes.

I also loved the ending for this book! It’s a perfect ending to make a reader really want to read the next installment. I can’t wait to see what happens in Mockingjay. But I’m making sure I finish my RBC discussion book before starting it, since I’m supposed to finish and discuss it today 😕 But I am very glad that I don’t have to wait a year to read the next one 😀

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

TitleThe Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: fiction (dystopian)
ISBN: 9780439023528
Length: 374 pages
Year Published: 2008
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: none

Summary:

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Reason for Reading: It seems that this series has been receiving a lot of hype recently. I know Michelle at my books. my life. read it a couple years ago, which was I believe my first introduction to the book. But more recently one of my best friends growing up read it and recommended it very highly. And I also read another blog review of this book by Jennie at Life is Short. Read Fast. that highly recommended it (and it appears she continued to blaze through the other two books 🙂 ).

My Thoughts on the Book (SPOILERS): I loved this book so much! It is so different from other dystopic novels I’ve read in that the characters are forced to do something by their all-controlling government. I find that dystopic novels tend to focus more on what the government denies the people rather than what it makes the people do (at least of the dystopic novels I read).

That being said, there was essentially only one thing I didn’t exactly like. That was when the Gamemakers changed the rule about there being only one winner–they allowed two to win, provided they were from the same district. At that point in the novel, I really didn’t like this. It felt that Collins sort of randomly included this rule to make it seem like Katniss and Peeta could both win and they wouldn’t have to kill each other–basically only in order to make the ending happier. But then, almost at the end, the Gamemakers decided only one could win. Now I hadn’t exactly seen that coming. And I feel it was pretty unnecessary. Had the Gamemakers never made the rule and then taken it away, Katniss and Peeta could’ve easily paired up and, once they got to the end, they could refuse to kill each other, just like they did. All of the switching was a little confusing. Although I understand that Collins might have been trying to make the ending more dramatic–which it was–I  think it was a little confusing. But, looking back on it (I finished it last night) it might have just been another way to show how the Gamemakers and the Capitol were horrible to the people of Panem, tricking the Tributes that way.

But despite what I felt was a little unnecessary in the switch back and forth, the ending was great! It is so easy to see that this is an installment in a series by the ending. And it truly does leave the reader wanting to read more. (Luckily for me, I don’t have to wait for Catching Fire to be published–I just have to wait for it to be ready for me at the library 😀 ) And I really am interested to know what happens between Katniss and Petta. Even though he seemed genuinely in love most of the time, I  had a nagging suspicion in the back of my mind that he may betray her. Especially when Katniss couldn’t find him after hunting–turns out he was just gathering berries. But their relationship is an interesting one. While I feel for Katniss in that she wanted to save them both, I would have to side with Peeta. Like him, I wear my heart on my sleeve, so even the minor betrayal (since Katniss never actually said she loved him) would hit me just as hard.

While there aren’t even really any similarities between the two sets of characters except their age-group, the Katniss-Peeta-Gale “love triangle” immediately made me think of the Bella-Edward-Jacob love triangle. This leads me to believe that it’s possible Twilight has sort of ruined my ability to look at other teenage relationships without thinking of it 😕 Should I be worried about this??

I can’t wait to get Catching Fire from the library. But I really should finish The Tenant of Wildfell Hall for the RBC discussion before I start it. I read The Hunger Games in essentially two sittings within a 24-hour time period, which leads me to believe I would neglect ToWH if I had it 🙂