Wednesday, March 7, 2012
On Tributes: A Pseudo-Review of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Even having overcome that, I still almost hesitate to review this because it has frankly been reviewed to death. What can I possibly say about this book that hasn't already been said dozens of times? Probably nothing. So instead of my usual like/dislike/recommendation format, I'm simply going to list what my expectations were when I went into this book--expectations based on what I read, was told, and saw in the movie trailers.
1)It has a strong heroine
Yes, it does. Katnis is a survivor by nature. She's strong and defiant and almost cold. But she has people she loves, people she'll do anything for, and you can't help but like her for that. Even when she does some unlikable things.
2) It's Really Violent!
This tends to be something everyone really focuses on about this book, especially with a PG-13 movie coming out. How are they going to get all that child death with a PG-13 rating?! Oh, easily. I'm not saying this book was a picnic on unicorn island to see the bunny festival, but it wasn't as gory as everyone built it up to me. Eleven of the twenty four contestants die right as the games open, and Katnis only clearly sees one of them happen. Then Katnis hears an idiot who built a fire die, but again sees nothing. Two die from bee stings, one from poison. They don't see Thresh die. A lot of the big deaths happen at night, happen quickly, and could easily be pulled off with very little blood if the film-makers are clever.
That being said, yes, it is a book about death and survival. It's about trying to keep your humanity when you're commanded to kill or die. So there has to be some violence.
3) It's about Defying The System.
This book sets you up for some epic show of defiance against the Capitol. Early on, you realize that Peeta has feelings for Katnis, and she begins to soften toward him as well. So my expectation was that it would come down to the two of them, and Katnis would have this big choice to make. Does she kill him, take her own life, refuse to do anything...this moment was extremely predictable from the beginning of the book. It loses something in the way of epicness as a result. It came across, to me, as a moment of impulsive resistance instead of a conscious decision to dent the system.
4) There's a romance
...That was lukewarm to me. This is where I sort of disliked Katnis. Does she feel anything for Peeta? Not until it becomes convenient too. When she's told they can both win. Then she wants him. Before this point, it doesn't even occur to her to help him. I'm baffled by this decision from the author, to have the Capitol lie to them and thus force them together. Why not have them come together on their own despite it all? To me, that would have been more rebellious and more romantic and it would have made that final moment of defiance seem as epic as it should have. Instead, I'm left not really trusting Katnis's feelings or the entire romance in general.
Final Thoughts: It's a good novel. It (at least somewhat) deserves it's outstanding popularity. But, to me, it has some serious flaws that will likely keep it off of my Read Again list. 4 stars.