Sep 24, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy

One of the things I hope to do with the blog this year is post some book reviews. I have only done this once before, as far as I can remember, and it was on Kevin Roose's 'The Unlikely Disciple.' But, as my undergrad years have come to a close, I finally I have the time I have always desired to do the reading I have always wished that I had the the time to do. It's sad, really. One does so much reading in a four year undergrad, but doesn't often have the time to read for fun (what's that, right?). Sidenote: No where on this blog will you find endorsements or reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey. I graduated with an English Honours degree, I read literature, not erotic novels for middle aged women.

Now, on to the good stuff.

This summer I put aside some time to blitz my way through the most popular trilogy of the past year: The Hunger Games.

I have mixed feelings about this series. On the one hand, I enjoyed the storyline and the post-apocalyptic North America of Panem. I enjoyed cyphering through philosophies and old poetry and deciding whether or not this trilogy could put itself on the list of books rivalling George Orwell's '1984', or Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451.' My decision? No.

See, despite a fast moving story filled with interesting characters, I had some pretty big literary bones to pick with this work. 

1) I couldn't take Katniss's interior monologue. The sentence fragments were overwhelming to the point where they were distracting (something an editor should have picked up on). These sentence fragments meant that I had to pay extra attention to what Collins was trying to say, often rereading a sentence 3 or 4 times to weed through comma splices and other punctuation crimes. 

2) Katniss had ZERO character development. By the end of the books, I felt that she hadn't grown up at all, she had just vocalized the problems every teenage girl has; which boy should I love? That being said, I liked that it took me a while to respect Peeta's character. I really did end up liking Peeta in the end, and felt genuinely sorry for his misfortune with the Capitol. 

3) SPOILER ALERT. Now this is a big one. I'm all for state reform in fiction. It makes for a good story. Orwellian type dramas make me happy; but even Orwell didn't render his texts obsolete by stripping the hero's motivation for change from the storyline. It may not be fair to compare Suzanne Collins to George Orwell (he is a literary genius to compete with, after all), but killing the character who, in essence, motivated Katniss's rebellion was foolish. Katniss became involved with the Hunger Games because of her younger sister Prim. Call me old fashioned, but it wasn't the mark of a great writer to kill off her hero's inspiration (nor did it make Prim a martyr). It was just cruel. 

Well, that's it. Hunger Games gets a 3 stars out of 5 rating from me. It isn't bad for a debut series. Perhaps when it is released in another edition, they will have a go at the comma splices and sentence fragments. 


The dB family said...

Well, you'll get no arguments from me. I couldn't have said it better myself. Just curious what you think Collins' reason was for writing the book. Social justice issues or a justification of murder? I read a review by Jon Dykstra and don't exactly agree with his take on the book. I think he missed the point entirely.

I have no intentions of reading any of the Fifty Shades books either and I will admit I'm very middle aged :o).

Lynette said...

Brittany, I just finished reading the trilogy, as well. I found myself with mixed feelings, as well. It was a decent story. I found the violence at times unnecessary. It didn't strike me right away, but I definitely agree with you on the character development front, and your anger/frustration with Prim's death. Senseless.

I echo the dB family in the question of the purpose of writing. I don't think it'll stand up to 1984, and I didn't find it really giving any hope or solutions to the problems it posed.
Just my thoughts...

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