I recently read The Hunger Games and I loved it. The main reason being the fantastically awesome heroine, Katniss. As far as underdogs go, she’s one of the best.
Extreme family situation? Check. Since her father’s death, she’s had to feed and take care of her severely depressed mother and her younger sister. Katniss is only sixteen.
Huge odds to overcome? Check. Not only does she live in the district of lowest stature, she’s been forced into a battle to the death with kids from the other districts. It’s been decades since anyone from her district has won.
Needless to say, this was a book right up my alley. But a weird thing happened when I started reading;
I couldn’t put the book down.
Why weird? Well, when I say I couldn’t put it down, I mean it literally bothered me to stop reading. I was annoyed that my lunch break was over or that I had to run an errand. On the other hand, if I grab the latest Jack Reacher, I’ll read it fast, but when I have to stop, I deal despite my eagerness to know what happens next.
Now if you wanted to know which one I thought was better, I couldn’t say. As far as I’m concerned, either book is an excellent reading choice. But there’s something about The Hunger Games that Jack Reacher doesn’t have. I’m not here to offer any kind of concrete explanation as to what this is, all I know is I had the same reaction when I discovered Harry Potter. Those books would not let me go once I opened them.
I think there’s a kind of magic that happens in a very small amount of books that no amount of training can prepare you for. And no one, not even the most experienced publisher, is going to know it’s there until the readers respond. This not to say all other books are lacking in the magic department. If you’re a storyteller (or any type of artist), then the creation of your art requires magic along with the technical stuff. Otherwise it’s not art. The most skilled artists will harness their magic into amazing works, but every so often someone comes along with a little extra magic he didn’t know he had and blammo! the story takes on a life of it’s own.
So in conclusion, we’ve learned nothing.
But I find it interesting how some books become phenomenons while others, just as good, fall short. I look at it as the difference between an A and an A+. What do you guys think?