- Rebecca Purdy
There are two approaches when it comes to reading books destined for the big screen. Some like to read the book first, and others, like me, don’t. My initial excitement in seeing Harry Potter brought to life, ended in disappointment. Due to the constraints of the format, I knew they would have to leave much on the cutting room floor, but for me those fallen scenes were the most important. In comparison, “The Hunger Games” is one of my favorite teen book to movie renditions, but even they soft-pedaled one of the most emotionally charged parts of the book--the genetically engineered, shockingly horrific mutts--probably and understandably for that PG-13 rating. These days though, so much young adult fiction is Hollywood-bound that I read the book before I know its future.
Those of you who read a newspaper, watch television or surf the web, will know that the sequel to “The Hunger Games,” “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins, came out last week. The books are fantastic, but if you’ve already read them then you can prepare for the next big dystopian movie trilogy--“Divergent,” based on the book by Veronica Roth, and due out March 2014. There are five factions in Beatrice Prior’s world and, at sixteen, she will soon decide whether to remain in her current faction or choose another. Beatrice was born into Abnegation, the selfless faction, where the needs of others always come first and questioning anything is discouraged. When she undergoes a test designed to help her decide her future, both she and the proctor are alarmed to discover that her results aren’t clear. The proctor cautions her to tell no one because divergence is considered dangerous. When the day of choice arrives, Beatrice chooses Dauntless, a brave and wild group. Arriving at her new home, Tris, as she is called now, is expected to take a leap of faith, jumping off a roof into a dark unknown, which luckily turns out to have a net. Her new life is hard and demanding both physically and mentally, but her biggest challenge is keeping her secret.
The next two books are beautifully written sob fests. “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak is a powerful, award winning novel whose movie is out now. Who but Death is the most appropriate narrator for a book set during the horrors of World War II? The book begins the first time he encounters Liesel, when her brother dies as the two children travel to live with foster parents for the duration of the war. It’s at her brothers grave that Liesel steals the first of many books, intuiting their power to change her life even though she can neither read nor write. Her foster parents are both complex, interesting characters, but both Liesel and the reader fall hardest for Papa, whose kindness to this lost child includes giving her a great gift--the ability to read her stolen treasures.
The problem with listening to a sad audiobook and having a short commute is that the tragedy, and resulting tears, comes in short snippets over a period of days instead of all at once. No matter the length of your own daily drive, I recommend the audio of “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, whose movie is coming out in June 2014. Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters are the best modern Romeo and Juliet I have encountered yet, only this time it’s not dueling families, but cancer that makes them star-crossed. The two meet at support group, and although Hazel resists falling in love since she believes her diagnosis makes her a bomb set to destroy everyone who loves her, Augustus Waters is irresistible. Tears are in inevitable in a book about multiple teens with cancer so yes, you will cry, but you will also laugh and probably simultaneously. These smart and smart-alec teens are worth getting to know even if their future is in question.