This isn’t the first time I’ve written about The Hunger Games on this blog. Granted it was two years ago and the post is gone now, but I’m re-reading the series, and I’ve been noticing a lot more details now on my second read through that I think warrant a new review regardless.
To ease any confusion, I am posting only about the first book in the trilogy here, which shares the same title as the whole series.
It’s a good book, basically, and I think its worth a read, no matter your age or reading snobbish-ness (of which I admit I have some level of myself). Yes, its a young adult series, but the themes are universal. On this second read through, I noticed a lot of details and writing tendencies that really got to me in an annoying, cliché way. It’s amazing what slips your notice when your interest is peaked. Once you know the story though, it seems like your mind snags on each of the flaws in the writing and the plot.
First, the good…
The concept of this book is incredible. It scopes so many human and governmental truths that shine out as bright and as un-ignorable as Orwell’s classic dystopia, 1984. It’s almost as if the foundation of the story The Hunger Games is more powerful than what actually occurs in the first book. Corrupted government relying on what I would practically call slavery from the districts, and maintains power through fear and zero tolerance. The set-up is meticulous – the flaws of this story are in the [young] characters.
For the record, my favorite character in the series (and movie) is Haymitch. Here is a guy who sees reality for what it is, can’t handle the atrocity of it, yet is responsible for orchestrating the success of all the major moving parts. He’s real. He’s funny. He’s tragic.
Its been about a month since I finished this book for the second time, and what is sticking out in my mind is how much better it could have been. The writing itself seemed overly simple – of course this is for the younger readers, but I feel so much more could have been done if it hadn’t been.
I absolutely hated the ‘fake’ romance between Peeta and Katniss. It was very frustrating ‘seeing though Katniss’ eyes’ for much of the book. I actually don’t think she’s that likeable of a character. She’s whiney, annoying, and stubborn to the point of fury. It’s like she is incredibly conscious of exactly half if what goes on, and through the writing, us as readers catch on to the rest. How can she be so conscious, and yet so unaware of everything at the same time? It’s like a split characteristic, and something I find very often in these ‘cult’ media fascinations (Twilight included, Harry Potter not) – everything seems very annoyingly convenient. It’s enough to give it a bad recommendation, publishers/editors-take note.
After watching some of the special features on the DVD (I love special features! The DVD was a fantastic invention!!), and the interviews done with the publisher, I realized this wasn’t a book born organically, not really. It was born out of the publisher’s knowledge of what kids were reading now-a-days, and tailored exactly to them. Of course, the series was a smash-hit, so I guess they proved very right in this instance, but the idea of it just really irks me. On the one hand, it might churn up some inspiration for the writers and get their ideas moving, but once that happens, it seems they’re very limited from there – like the story couldn’t take them wherever it wanted, it had to stay in specific guidelines, provided by the publishing house. Not that it showed up in this story…I’m just saying.
So if by now you still haven’t read The Hunger Games, I dare you to do it. What could you possibly lose? A few bucks and one day of reading time? It’s worth that much, at least.