For my twentieth post, it will be about a book I am hungry for more (pun intended)!
Throughout my life, there have been so many people telling me to read a certain book, because I will love it. The Hobbit. The Eagle of the Ninth. Harry Potter. The Cry of the Icemark. But every time I try to read them, the beginning just drags on and on and on like a elephant being pulled across the desert by an ant. They were just SO BORING.
Then I heard about The Hunger Games. Well, I didn’t HEAR about the Hunger Games. I just saw teenager after teenager walking around with ‘The Hunger Games’ under their arm, talking about how they finished the Hunger Games in an afternoon or something within a similar time span. I heard and read billions of stories about how “my teenager daughter just got so hooked into that book, she ignored my attempts to talk to her”. I had my doubts. How could a book 450 pages long hook you so much that you can finish it in a matter of hours?
I eventually decided to stop doubting and actually try reading it for myself, so I reserved the book at a library. I was number 54 in a ‘queue’ for about 40 copies of the book. I thought I would have to wait months. I was alerted about the book’s arrival in a fortnight. That was my first clue.
I picked the book up.
I put the book down.
I was already 1/4 of the way through the book during that time.
That was my second clue.
But how? I thought to myself, HOW?
What magic ingredient does this book have that just pulled me in, hook, line and sinker?
Maybe it’s the fact that every teenager can relate in some way to one of the characters’ life?
Maybe it’s because of the simplicity in its structure, mixed with the complexity, genius and originality of its plot?
Maybe it’s because of the constant, well-thought, gripping cliff-hanger at the end of each chapter.
Or maybe I should just stop thinking about it, and regard the ingredient as magic. Pure magic.
Completely disregard every post I made where I tell you to read or see something. READ THE HUNGER GAMES. NOW. Not now. NOW.
Finished it? Good. How long did it take you…? Excellent. Now back to business.
What did you think of it? Rubbish? What the — Oh. You were joking. It’s not funny. I was actually concerned for a minute there.
But I am more than delighted to place myself amongst the googleplex teen-aged members of the Hunger Games fans. The fact that it has been praised by Stephen King — the king of suspense — is unsurprising.
If you didn’t bother to read the Hunger Games when I told you, here it is in a nutshell:
Poverty; hunting; town square; shock; fall; luxury; suspicion; breath-taking costume designing; more luxury; practice; arguing; 11; more arguing; rooftop; interview; girly; blood; hunger games; deaths; more blood; poison; ending.
Words can’t be used to describe The Hunger Games. If there was 101 Books to Read Before You Die, The Hunger Games would be No. -10.
OK, that was a slight exaggeration, I’ll admit. But I’m a slow, easily distracted reader, and I read this book in about five sittings at 1-page-per-minute. If you have any doubts or worries about reading the Hunger Games, eliminate them.
I hope you get the idea.
Now…onto Catching Fire…
Three weeks ago, I went indoor skydiving at Milton Keynes. I can still remember every feeling I had, every event that happened, every thing that just made me go “WOWSA!”
From the outside, the skydiving building was ugly, and looked like a cuboid designed to pump out air conditioning. Well, having typed that… But the point is, the exterior looked like nothing compared to the interior!
There was a metal staircase (the steps being metal slats) that led up to where the action happened. At the bottom, there was a “jail cell” for “failed fliers”. “I hope that isn’t me!” I joked…
There was a viewing area around the tube where the “victims” were blown so that they were hovering in mid air, almost as if they actually were skydiving. Some peoples’ faces rippled under the force of the wind! Children with beams bigger than the Cheshire Cat would nod at the instructor, the noise coming from the fan would increase, the instructor would spin the child round, grab hold of their legs, and then they would WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH up, still spinning, right up to the top of the chute, plummet back down, shoot back up, repeat it, then let the child out. Holy macaroni, I thought whenever that happened. I so wanted to try it, but it looked PETRIFYING!…
Then our session began. We were taken into a little room with chairs, and were told to watch a video on the correct posture to have and the hand signals the instructor will give (the fan is EXTREMELY LOUD, and we will have to wear foam earplugs to protect our eardrums) whenever we need to (a) relax, (b) bend our legs, (c) straighten our legs or (d) keep our chin up. It all seemed easy enough.
Then before I knew it, we had our ‘jumpsuits’ on (quite literally, come to think of it), our helmets on, our earplugs in (just about, for me) and the instructions bouncing around our heads.
My heart felt like it had run a marathon. Twice. My emotions were having a dispute. Between excitement and fear. Climbing the metal stairs, my heart ran another marathon.
We then sat in a glass section of the viewing area, next to the chute entrance. Just typing this, my heart is running again! I was thinking this was going to be as easy as eating a grape, so I was near the front of the queue. The first people who went in seemed to enjoy it. Their posture was good. The teacher seemed happy.
Then it was my turn.
And I cannot tell you how far my heart has sank typing that.
I stood, swaying, my hands over my chest as instructed, and leant over and outstretched my arms.
It was horrible. Ghastly. SICKENING.
And then I looked down.
And my lungs spontaneously combusted.
The 150mph wind didn’t seem to enter my mouth. Or my nose.
I felt like I was hovering above the Grand Canyon.
I couldn’t breath.
I told myself that over and over.
I can’t breath. I can’t breath. I can’t breath.
My limbs went out of control. I was kicking and kicking and kicking, my back painfully bent back, my eyes fixed gazing downwards, and my neck straining back.
The instructor pulled me over to a screen that flashed in big green letters STAY CALM.
STAY CALM? How can I stay calm when I can’t breath?
I gave the instructor the thumbs down: the signal saying I wanted to leave. NOW.
The instructor did so, and asked me what the problem was. I told him that I just couldn’t breath. He told me to take deep breaths. My heart wasn’t running a marathon now. It had ran around the world 30 times without stopping.
But that wasn’t it; each of us got to have two turns. I took mine reluctantly. You only live once, Neil from the Inbetweeners told me in my head. Beforehand, this had almost made Simon drown. But this was a more safer event. I leant forward.
Lookuplookuplookuplookup. I thought to myself throughout.
I controlled my breathing well. I looked at my instructor, and he gave me the signal I thought I would NEVER get after my last go.
(Pointing up) Do you want to go up?
You only live once.
The viewing area spun and spun and spun. I heard the dreaded high-pitched whine of the fan increase. The instructor clamped onto my legs like a squid.
I saw grey. The grey of the chute.
Then I finally fully realised what I was doing.
Oh fudge and toffee on a chocolate cake.
I was doing the HI FLY!
My helmet was almost torn off as I descended. I rose again.
And my mouth opened for the first time.
“OOOOOOOOHHHHHHH MMMYYYYYYY GOOOOOOOOOOODDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat’s hyper younger brother. I wasn’t screaming. I was more than screaming. It’s just that the stupid English language doesn’t HAVE a word for a yell louder than a scream!
I screamed. I yelled. I cried. I bellowed out my indescribable happiness with the most clichéd of screams.
When I was forced out, I felt higher than space. I felt like I was in a climate more emptier than space! I felt like I had had two packs of Red Bull and had just had a laughing fit for 6 hours and performed a comedy routine worthy of Rhod Gilbert about an electric toothbrush.
My heart had done all it’s running for the rest of my life. Now it was my lungs’ turn to run.
I wrote a lot, didn’t I?! If you have read this entire post, I give you…………….erm………………..another well done! WELL DONE YOU!