Fad books are a major pet peeve of mine. It annoys me to no end to hear people gushing about a book just because their friends and everyone else around them is gushing about it. No matter how good the book may be, there’s just no way that everyone is going to (honestly) like it. If I know someone who hasn’t picked up a book in four years and is suddenly raving about the book of the month, chances are I’m not going to be that interested in reading it. Maybe that makes me a snob or a weirdo, I don’t know. I have no interest in being a lemming.
That said, I read both of the following series before hearing any mention of movies and before I realized they were causing such a stir. And I’m so glad because if I hadn’t picked up these books based on my snobby opinions of the fad-followers I would have missed out on some truly great reading.
First up, don’t roll your eyes, is The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. I read the first one several years ago and really loved it. It was un-like anything I’d ever read before. I immediately followed up with Catching Fire, but for some reason that I don’t quite understand myself, I only made it a few chapters in before giving up. I convinced myself that I hated it and refused to finish it. Then a few months ago I saw the third book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, sitting on the shelf at my local library, and decided to give the series another shot. And I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I even watched (and liked!) the movie, which amazingly sticks pretty close to the plot of the book. I’ll even confess that I’ve already informed Jerm that our date next month will be to see Catching Fire after it’s released in theaters. (He’s thrilled.)
The other series is the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth that I just happened to stumble upon at the library. Normally I don’t peruse the YA section, so I’m not even sure how I ended up finding Divergent in the first place, but I’m really glad I did, because it’s probably my favorite fiction read of the year. The second book, Insurgent, was almost as good as the first, and the last book in the series, Allegiant, is set to be released in any day now (yay!).
Here are a few of the reasons I like these books so much:
They both have strong, brave, but decidedly human heroines as the central character. They aren’t perfect, they aren’t dazzlingly beautiful or popular. Mostly they’re just trying to survive (literally) what life is throwing at them.
Both series inspire hope in bleak circumstances.
Both have a superb cast of secondary characters. They’re well-developed, likable, believable.
Both of the lead characters have strong family ties. For teenagers, it’s….refreshing.
Finally, and hugely important to me, is the complete lack of cursing in these books. I can’t tell you how many times a book has been totally ruined for me because I can’t make it past the excessive swearing. It’s annyoing, offensive, and as these authors prove, completely unnecessary.
If dystopia isn’t your normal cup of tea, but you’re looking for something different, I’d definitely recommend these books.
See the rest of the series here.