Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010

Suzanne Collins

Remaking society can take decades. But global rebellion is short work for sharpshooter Katniss Everdeen, who single-handedly foments a revolution in Suzanne Collins' blockbuster young-adult Hunger Games trilogy. America likes its champions reluctant, and Collins specializes in that surly breed: her heroine trounces dystopic despots while chewing her cheek in self-doubt.

Triumphant but not arrogant, prized but not vain, Katniss takes two whole books and assurances from two suitors to accept that the crowds love her.

You could get tired of bracing yourself for a hero's next unwitting triumph if Collins, 47, didn't wear the mantle of her own success so lightly. Like Katniss, she's a natural, lighting from thriller to bodice ripper to fantasy in the space of a few chapters, churning out a powerful, innovative oeuvre without making a big deal about it. Her literary dexterity lends itself to marketingspeak — call it Children of Men meets The Clan of the Cave Bear — but Collins is not pastiche. She's a literary fusioneer, that rare writer who is all things to all readers. Today's would-be revolutionaries should be so lucky.

Skurnick is the author of Shelf Discovery, a memoir of teen reading

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