Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Hunger Games

In my post yesterday, I promised to tell you what I thought about The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.

Before I do that, however, please understand that I haven’t read the sequels yet. There is something absurd about reviewing a book when nearly everyone else has read the sequels and I haven’t—but I’ll do it anyway. So what was the book like?

Nice story. Good writing. Okay plot. We’ll see how the other two books go before we pass judgment
.

What else do you want?

Actually, I started reading with three preconceptions—first, that if someone didn’t want to fight, no one could make them. Second, everyone really liked the books, so they were probably overhyped. And third, many of the reviewers were concerned about the lack of moral substance in the story, so they were probably overreacting.

I’ve changed my mind (mostly) on all three counts.

Yes, stuck in a situation with a certain number of homicidal maniacs, anyone will kill in order to survive. Yes, the book was very well constructed. And yet, as I said about Divergent before, this book does not appear to have any moral code, any moral authority, or any sort of basis for making a decision other than staying alive.

Further, in a book that should be about a character who has to make really, really hard decisions in order to stay alive (I assume you know the plot by now), Collins seems to work hard to keep Katniss Everdeen from that sort of thinking. Even the finale for the big fight seems based on an “oops, guess we haven’t got any choice, and it’s better to put him out of his pain…” decision, if it can be called a decision.

Oh, and they’re violent. If you don’t like violent stories, if you don’t like messy romantic entanglements, or if a lack of moral grounding upsets you, don’t bother with this book. Otherwise, it did have decent entertainment value, enough so that I will probably read the sequels.

Finally, for those of you who love the Hunger Games—no, I don’t get it. I especially don’t buy the ending to the first book. An accident in the hospital, yes. A high-speed train crash and nation-wide mourning; that I could buy. But I can’t quite handle an absolutely ruthless hope-draining government that wrings its hands over how to deal with one slightly obnoxious teenage girl.

Of course, I’m now left to speculate about the next two books until I get around to reading them:

Possibility A says that Katniss falls down a flight of stairs, breaks her neck, loses her voice, or does something similarly drastic—which might mean she finally has enough incentive to get upset and show some kind of emotional reaction. (I’d have to go through the book with a comb and a highlighter before I would be willing to believe she’s showed any so far.)

Possibility B, which is unfortunately far more likely, says that she gets stuck leading some sort of national rebellion while trying to put up with equally plausible love interests—and keep them from fighting each other. And since I know how all the other stories end when one character tells the girl that his father used to be in love with her mother… Am I right? (Don’t tell me—I’ll learn eventually how wrong I was. And if you know what’s coming, please don’t laugh!)

6 comments:

Daniel Sauble said...

Sooo... in true gladiator fashion... thumbs up or thumbs down?

Audrey said...

In violation of true gladiator fashion--neither.

I refuse to give a final opinion until I've seen the whole fight, and there's still two books to go. (Besides, I haven't made up my mind yet.)

In general, though, it was an interesting read.

Krista M.V. said...

The series sounds interesting and even like a real thriller. But I just don't care for the twisted morals. :-/ It doesn't seem like a good idea for kids to be reading novels about kids killing kids... :( So much of that is already happening in schools today. I can't help but wonder why the author would want to write about that. From an adult perspective it's intriguing, but when I think about kids filling their minds with that, it just doesn't seem right.

I like what you said about them still having a choice. Makes me think of the Nate Saint's story... They still had a choice to defend themselves from the attacking natives, but instead they didn't. They sacrificed themselves and as a result, they were able to pretty much bring the "war" to an end. This seems like a much better message to bring kids through a novel, but of course the author probably isn't a Christian.

Anyways, I'm blabbing now... :P

Audrey said...

Hi Krista, those are very important concerns with the stories--I certainly wouldn't recommend the books to younger readers, and even older readers might need to be careful with the stories. While it would be easy just to enjoy the action and move on, we do have to stop and think about the situations and decisions that come up (as with any book, of course!)

Krista M.V. said...

Yep. :) Agreed. :P Oh boy, I've got a lot of catching up to do on your blog. You've written a lot since I was here last! :D By the way, it was fun seeing you at the wedding. Maybe I'll see you at dance thursday?

Audrey said...

Yes! It's been great to catch up on things with you recently.

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