Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hunger Games

I am definitely behind the times. I lived internationally for a few years and then had a baby—both things severely curtailing my pleasure reading. But I’ve finally finished Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series, months after everyone else.

I can see the initial appeal of the series. Hunger Games swept me in. Although I never really related to Katniss, who is rather abrasive and unlikeable, I was interested in the plot and felt attached to her fellow Hunger Games competitor Peeta. I’m not sure why so many authors insist of creating such unattractive (I don’t mean physically) female protagonists (think Bella Swan) that are inexplicably the center of male attention.

Hunger Games was plot driven, and I accepted that, going along for the ride. Catching Fire wasn’t quite as compelling, since the initial horror of what the Hunger Games are was long since revealed, but the plot was again interesting enough to keep me going.

The final entry, Mockingjay, though, failed to capitalize on the momentum of the first two (I know I’m not alone in these feelings). Moving from the Games to actual war lost much of the excitement and uniqueness of the series. Instead, the reader had to feel committed to Katniss and her success, and I struggled to care. She was often so weak, unlikable, selfish, and unfeeling that I wished someone else was the main character. I was also disappointed that Collins so casually disposed of so many characters. I felt particularly manipulated by the death of one whose life was the catalyst for the whole series. It made the entire series feel, in some ways, quite pointless.

Hunger Games was far from perfect and probably undeserving of much of its adoration and success. However, I am all for books that make young people read, and Collins definitely succeeded in inspiring a large following.

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