Love/Hate and Gone Girl

In tonight’s 21st Century Literacies class, my students and I were discussing different types of media, and we completed an activity called “Four Corners on the Media” from Renee Hobbs’s book Digital and Media Literacy.  The activity asks participants to discuss what we like/dislike about different forms of media.  Then a suggested follow-up activity is to write about a specific media text with which we have a love/hate relationship.

That writing prompt made me think of my experience reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.   A friend urged me to read the book saying, “I’ve never read a book where I disliked the characters so much and still kept wanting to read.”  She was right.  I couldn’t put that book down, but before I was finished, I so intensely disliked both of the main characters that I was fascinated by my response.  At times I became so irritated with these characters that I wanted to quit reading, but I couldn’t.  I was almost reading just to see if something bad would happen to them.

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What I’m Reading: The Hunger Games

For months friends have been urging me to read Suzanne Colllins’ The Hunger Games trilogy.  I’ll admit to resisting. I don’t care much for dystopian fiction; no matter how engrossing the book, I leave the reading experience feeling depressed. I didn’t anticipate that this reading experience would be different.

Finally this week my impatience with being left out of the The Hunger Games conversation overcame my resistance, and I dove in.  As predicted, I didn’t come up for air until I had finished the first book.  Instead of being depressed, I left this book intrigued.  Collins has created a fascinating heroine in Katniss Everdeen, and her quest to survive the murderous Hunger Games makes for a compelling story.  But what intrigued me most was how the book made me think beyond the story.  The book is fiction, and I never forgot that I was reading a story someone had created.  Yet even as I read, I was thinking of how this story reflects of our society.  At the foundation of this story is a society obsessed with competition and voyeurism.  How does that world differ from our 21st century world where we tweet our every action and spend our free time glued to “reality” television?  Are the Hunger Games a metaphor, albeit an extreme one, for our own patterns of destruction?