Wednesday, August 25

You will probably disagree with this, or "I liked it but it bugged me"

So I just finished The Hunger Games (I know I'm like two books behind) and my feelings about it are on my mind. And since I'm the sheriff 'round these desolate parts I'm going to put it out there.

And if you're in my book group and haven't read it yet, maybe save this blog post to read for later.

...

The Hunger Games irritated me.

It was entertaining—gripping even. Perfectly paced, with some well-rounded, likable characters. I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it. I binged and read it in two days. I was anxious to know how it would end (though I hoped for a little more resolution than I got). And it wasn’t even all that predictable.

But.

It was just so…contrived.

I was engaged until Collins turned the romance on strong somewhere in the last third. (Disclaimer: eye roll.) Then I started thinking that this whole book was just an excuse to tell this sort-of, does-she-or-doesn't-she love story. The author doesn’t really ask us to think about the politics or the economics or the social questions raised by a hegemonic government that pits 24 teenagers in an arena to kill each other on live TV (not to mention the plausibility issues with this premise). Our heroes don't even really struggle against the system. This twisted dystopia was just a venue for girl to nurse boy back to health and snuggle up to him in a sleeping bag and have him brush her hair away from her face. (Which I would guess is the most popular aspect of this book anyway.)

And that’s the irony. The Gamemakers manufacture this grisly event for the morbid pleasure of the unquestioning Capitol citizens (whom we should detest), and the leaders then manipulate the rules for maximum romance-drama to keep the audience engrossed and coming back for more. Which, when you think about it, is not that different from what Collins does to her readers: we take the killing in stride, we root for our favorite character(s) [who, thanks to the first-person narrative, we know won't die], and we gobble up the gooey stuff.

Maybe Collins was trying to make that deeper point after all...but I doubt it.

(all of which does not mean I won't be reading Catching Fire sometime soon)

6 comments:

Traci said...

I was kind of bugged by the last little bit of the Hunger Games too. I almost felt like she was hurrying up to finish the book and got a little sloppy. I did read Catching Fire though and felt it was better. I haven't run down and gotten the third book, Mocking Jay, yet, but I will read it when it crosses my path eventually.

Lindsey said...

I am re-reading Hunger Games right now and I get what you are saying, but get to catching fire, from what I remember there is more of a defiance against the messed up system and less romance...

Lindsay said...

I don't think the sappy stuff is the reason Hunger Games is so popular--I liked it _in spite of_ the "romance" factor. I think it's a clever, captivating premise.

The thing that really bugged me was the present tense writing style. I get that she wanted it to feel current, but it was very distracting to me. I'm just a grammar freak, I guess.

Can I voice a minor complaint that 5/6 of all the "readers" in our ward are already in another book club? I love the ward club, but we sure miss you guys--there aren't many of us!

Ashley Clark said...

I liked the second book a lot better. For some of the reasons you listed - and also because the whole book was just killing people. I'd love to hear what you think of that one.

Amy said...

Did you feel like a bad person for liking it? I did. It makes me a Capitalist. Of sorts. And that's bad. I agree that the 2nd is slightly less frustrating, but still.... bottom line I'm reading about how horrible it is to watch that for entertainment - for entertainment.

Jillian said...

Contrived was the exact same word my brother-in-law used too...

...and thanks again for your sweet comment today. (And yes, it will be today!) This is going to be good ;)