Kali (_thirty2flavors) wrote,

the hunger games!

So, largely because someone on Mark Reads [the Hunger Games] provided me with a way to LEGALLY ACQUIRE the first of these books, I decided to read.

Overall my impression is sort of ... so-so?

The story itself, the set-up and the concept, is interesting, albeit morbid. Actually, there were times when I thought it was getting a little too dark -- dark to the point of ridiculousness and therefore comedy -- which I'm told only gets worse as the series progresses. I can't remember specific instances, but there were times I'd be like "LOL, RLY?" But it's a suspenseful premise, and I do enjoy a good ol' dystopian novel, usually.

However, I have to say... I really don't think, from a style point of view, Suzanne Collins is a very good writer. She has a good story to tell, but her method of expressing it did not impress me. I don't think she's a better writer than Stephenie Meyer, contrary to popular belief. Actually, I found myself more actively irritated by Collins' style while reading than I ever did with Meyer's. This might be because I felt the writing here was obscuring a good story, whereas in Twilight I didn't think there was anything better hidden under the surface. But first person present tense? Really? I mean one of those is bad enough, but the combo-pack was really something. Also, periods. So many of them. And fragments. For suspense. Drama. The lack of all natural rhythm.

People on Mark's blog keep arguing that the present tense makes it seem like she could die at any second, but come on, no it doesn't, she's the narrator and the main character of a trilogy. First person is a narrative style I almost never enjoy. I think this story could have been told more effectively in third person and in past tense. I'm reading The Tiger in the Well right now as well, and I think jumping between Pullman's omniscient narrator and this probably did Collins no favours.

Once the Games start, I will admit that this becomes a little less noticeable because the story is more action-packed. But even still I found myself baffled by the narrative technique. Plus, Collins' foreshadowing is as subtle as Stephenie Meyer's was, which is to say it makes JKR's anvil-sized hints look microscopic.

Character-wise, I find Katniss sort of... uninspiring. We see her crack up a bit more towards the end which warmed me to her a little, but before that it felt very much like I was just having this character shoved in my face with neon signs saying "LOOK HOW GRITTY SHE IS! HOW INDEPENDENT! HOW SASSY!" and I found myself irritated by it. I liked Rue okay, and didn't expect her to die as quickly as she did after the alliance. Peeta's alright, sort of standard love interest fare tbh. I found the declaration of love and the reveal that he'd loved her forever yadda yadda caustic narrator girl who live sin a world of pain doesn't realize she's the apple of everyone's eye etc, I've read this one before. As someone who doesn't usually care about ships, a love triangle is one of my least favourite plot devices. I never care, I just want it to end immediately.

Also WTF WOLF TRIBUTE DEMON THINGS? What. I suspect that was supposed to be creepy but I just found it so hilariously ridiculous. I also thought Rue's would end up helping them, but... she didn't. Oh well. All the genetically-engineered creatures and bizarre tech threw me, actually, I kept forgetting it was some kind of parallel universe/future/sci-fi thing going on and then it would be like "LOL SYNTHETIC FLAMES" and I'd be going "wait, what?"

This all seems rather negative. I will say that the plot gets going once the Games start, and I really did want to keep reading. But once the Games were over and the book ended, I didn't feel compelled to immediately track down book 2, possibly because my friend has told me it's just more of the same. (I'm assuming they somehow do the Hunger Games... again? Maybe with Gale? IDK. Whatever.) The series deals (heavy-handedly) with things like totalitarian regimes and oppressing the masses and classism and poverty which are better themes to deal with than sparkly vampires. goldy_dollar asked me if I think YA books having good style is particularly important, and to be honest I don't, not really. I think the messages books send are more important, particularly with young readers who are less likely to have stylistic preferences of their own. Shit, when I was 13 I thought sentence fragments and second person present tense were ~so totally edgy~. But reading them now? I did find it detracted a lot from the story.

They're making a movie, I'm pretty sure, and I actually think this is a series that could be better on screen, given that the prose was the weakest part. I'm not sure if I'll read the other two or not tbh. I suppose we shall see!

All in all I'd give it a 6 out of 10, about.
Tags: books: best weapons in the world
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