Sunday, May 6, 2012

What to Read After The Hunger Games

[*Beginning of THG spoilers]

So, you’ve read The Hunger Games trilogy. You’ve journeyed with Katniss through two arenas, several rebellions, and a war. You’ve seen the love triangle play out to the end, you’ve mourned the tragic deaths of some of your favorite characters, and now you can sleep knowing that there are survivors who are safe, if not entirely sound.

[*End of THG spoilers]

The big question is: What now?

What can possibly take the place of The Hunger Games trilogy on your bookshelf?

The answer is simple: Nothing.

There is no trilogy like The Hunger Games, and trying to find a replacement would be like Cinna deciding to stop being fabulous. It won’t happen.

But there is hope! I’ve had lots of questions from friends asking me what to read next, and I can tell you with great enthusiasm that The Hunger Games might be the lamb stew, but there are lots of other tasty meals on the menu.   

People like The Hunger Games for many different reasons, and I have categorized my suggestions based on several endearing qualities of the books. If I didn’t address why you liked the books, please leave me a comment and I’ll get you a recommendation.

So, if you liked The Hunger Games (THG), consider reading the following books. I’d love to know what you think once you’ve read them, and I hope you have recommendations to add!

Category: OMG Please Read This Book

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

This book came out in 1985, but it is as relevant and poignant today as it was when it was winning awards almost 30 years ago.

I’ve read that this book is mandatory for training in the Marine Corps, and I can see why. In this book, the Capitol in THG is instead an international space fleet with a school that trains children to become soldiers who will defeat the “Buggers”, or aliens who are set to invade Earth. Ender Wiggin is taken from earth at a young age to attend the Battle School.  Through a series of training games, Ender shows his promise as a tactician in increasingly difficult scenarios. Through it all, Ender struggles with rage and violence, empathy, self-definition, and humanity.

This book blew my mind. If you see the ending coming, you are my hero because I was shocked, and I can usually predict these things.

Favorite quote: “There is no teacher but the enemy.”

The movie based on this book is in production now and will be released next November. I encourage you to #readitfirst !

Also, The Giver by Lois Lowry has a similar feel and is a very good book.

Category: Strong female lead, survival, figuring stuff out

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larrson

There has been almost as much hype about this mystery thriller series and the movies as THG, and both the books and the films live up to their fame. The journey of Lizbeth and Mikael and the mysteries they solve lead to fist pumping, hair pulling, horror-stricken moments. Wading through the many names and thick detail can be tough, and the story is much darker than THG, but the plot and the characters are worth it. 

Other recommendations in this category:
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater
The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Category: Political intrigue and regional struggles

The Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin

You may think they’re just crazy fantasy books that have evolved in to a wildly successful HBO series, but I’m telling you, these books are about people; good people and the very worst types of people, all of them flawed and endearing. The complicated stories are engaging, the writing is beautiful, the characters are lovable and contemptible, and the fantasy overlays political, social, and emotional realism. Like the Dragon Tattoo series, these books are heavier on details and names than THG, but they are just as enthralling.

Other recommendations in this category:
Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld

Category: Young Adult Dystopia Series   

The Maze Runner series by James Dashner

This seems to be the go-to recommendation for what to read after THG. I liked the first book, but the series did not engage me as much as some other books on the list. Still, it’s worth noting that these books may be a good next read.

Other recommendations in this category:
Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
The Matched series by Allie Condie
Delirium and Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver  
Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness

Category: Young Adult Fantasy

The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer

What are you doing? Just read them already. You know you want to.

There are SO many more books I hope you read, but these made the short list for those of us missing The Hunger Games books. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

It makes my day when I hear from you on Facebook, Twitter, email, or in comments below.

Happy reading!