March 12, 2012

The Leftovers, Wonderstruck, and the Hunger Games

it was a busy weekend, reading-wise. i managed to finish The Leftovers, and read both Wonderstruck and finally, finally The Hunger Games.

i had never heard of Tom Perrotta, but he came recommended by a trusted literary friend. i decided to start with his latest, The Leftovers. it's an interesting premise- set in present day, it chronicles a small town's attempt to move past the sudden departure of millions of the world's population. it was a rapture, but for most it wasn't THE Rapture. for one, many Christians weren't taken, but there were plenty of Hindus, Muslims, atheists, alcoholics, etc who did disappear. the disappearances seem arbitrary and not based on any sort of merit or moral quality. in the wake of such a confusing event, people lose grip on reality, deadly cults spring up, Sponge Bob Square Pants becomes therapy. the story focuses on one family's unraveling- a father's hope to move on, a mother's detachment with reality, a son's abandonment of the family, and the scathed daughter who remains. i loved the idea of examining the post-rapture world from a completely non-Biblical perspective. it was a really interesting read; my only complaint being that in the last 30-40 pages there were a lot of unexplained changes/leaps in certain characters' mindsets and goals. i felt like i was missing a couple chapters. but overall, really enjoyable and makes me want to check out more of his work.

Ben thought about what it meant to curate your own life, as his dad had done here. what would it be like to pick and choose the objects and stories that would go into your own cabinet? how would Ben curate his own life? and then, thinking about his museum box, and his house, and his books, and the secret room, he realizes he'd already begun doing it. maybe, thought Ben, we are all cabinets of wonders.

Wonderstruck is by Brian Selznick, the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. This is his latest, and it's very similar- 2 stories woven together, one in words and the other in beautiful graphite illustrations. like Hugo, it includes a touch of "real life"- in this case, the huge model of New York City that was created for the 1964 World's Fair and the 1977 blackout.
it also includes the 4th book i've recently read to reference Minnesota- Freedom, State of Wonder, The Leftovers (briefly mentions relatives living in Minneapolis), and now Wonderstruck (one of the main characters is from Gunflint Lake, MN). Selznick himself went up to the Grand Marais & Gunflint Lake area for research.

it's very similar to Hugo- simple, enjoyable story, easily read in an afternoon.

and finally, i spent most of Sunday devouring The Hunger Games. everyone was right; it's great. the dystopia is vivid and the action is well written. it's a good thing i started early in the day, because i definitely would have stayed up too late finishing this one. the only benefit of me being this late to the craze is that i only have to wait a few weeks for the movie. it seems impossible to screw up, although i can't decide if Lenny Kravitz as Cinna will be a misstep or not. (i'm actually looking forward to Woody Harrelson as Haymitch.) we shall see!

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