Dienstag, 10. April 2012

Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Quite frankly, I would never have picked the book up if it wasn't for the movie, which I planned to watch. I usually prefer reading the book before watching the film adaptation.

So I read it and was like, well... okay.

I'm not impressed. The style lacks ...finesse. The syntax is very simple and please, leave some 'but's and 'however's for other people. You don't need them to start sentences when your character is arguing with herself. Maybe, some re-writing could have gone into it.

I needed to suspend my disbelieve quite a lot in this. There were moments that caught me and made me happily read on. But then there were those that made me stop. Because, why didn't Katniss shoot Cato (or one of her prime opponents) earlier? She had at least 3 chances. Was it because of moral reasons? If so, I didn't read about them and would have needed more insight into her thinking. Because it felt as if the author just needed to prolong the story. Adding the mutts in the final bit was just too much. Especially since there was no consequence or explanation whether this has happened before, to use people in this way. Would this happen again?

Which leads me to the next point: back-story. Where George R. R. Martin might occasionally overdo it and leave me completely exhausted with details of the history of the world he creates, some back-story would help. It not simply explains how these people think and why Katniss goes along so willingly with the styling etc. It would also make everything more believable. Because I know where the things happening are coming from and it is not just some random cruelty to make the reader read on.
Think Tolkien, Pratchett, Douglas Adams. They created worlds. Do that too, please.

It is supposed to be for young adults, right? Well then I guess it is okay to add the Romeo and Juliet story arch. I read the play and it is my least favorite (apart from the language) of Shakespeare's because... well, I just want to slap them on the head and think: grow up. So, all that with the fake and not fake love story was a bit too fanfiction like for me.

However, Katniss is no Mary Sue, so that is a plus. She can handle herself. It's not her fault that the author gives her bad ass skills with bow and arrow and then refuses to let her use them. It's as if you gave Batman a shiny new Batmobile and then took away the keys from him.

I've started on the next book, a little bit reluctantly but it won't take up a lot of my time so I guess it's okay to give it a try.

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Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Now that's more like it. The stakes are higher and we get a glimpse of the world and of society. The style doesn't seem as simple (but that could be because the content distracted me because it was much more interesting). I'm more happy now and will start on book 3 right away.

View all my reviews Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have two pages of things in my journal that I didn't like or that I thing would have been better.
Let me say that I'm on Buttercups side (anyone who imagines a cat as a pair of mittens doesn't even deserve my attention). I was majorly annoyed that Katniss was a puppet all the time, because she was the one character who had power. But she didn't use it or claim it, mainly she didn't even ask what was going on just let herself get dressed and ordered around. This annoyed me.

I wonder whether the author didn't know her character (or didn't see how she developed during the story) or whether the character didn't know herself because the way Katniss described herself on p 271 (Finally he can see me for who I am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly.<(i>) is not the Katniss the reader encounters. She is deadly in the Arena.. but only when she remembers that she is a magnificent shot and could actually kill everyone in sight and not blow up food. She plays the parts assigned to her very well and without questioning them for someone who claims to be distrustful. She is very ready to demand peace or avoid killing for someone supposedly violent. And she has a surprising lack of insight for someone who claims to be manipulative. She is neither of those things. So what is it? Bad writing or a character who doesn't know herself?

Also, dear author, while I appreciate that you try to be original (while writing a story that is as old as history books) and sophisticated (by naming an Avox Lavinia when she has nothing but the lack of tongue in common with Shakespeare's most traumatized female character), there is no need to call 'brainwashing' not by its name but 'hijacking', because we have already encountered before. Then you explain the word 'to hijack' and it backfires because you either insult my intelligence as a reader or you dumb down you protagonist even more because she doesn't know a basic word.

What did work, as it finally happened because I was under the impression it might be the climax, was everything in the Capitol and the ending (Buttercup touched me). Because the end was personal and there, the author seemed to know what she was writing about. The rest of the story, where I was expecting more information about the world and the state of the revolution, I was trapped in a hospital with a confused protagonist (and not even that confusion paid off).

To sum it up. The plot: nothing new (no wonder she refereed to ancient Greece or Rome). So you have to really put a spin on it and you have to master it. In language and story-lines and character strength. You want a struggling heroine? Have her struggle but not be a puppet on a string. You want to show atrocities of dictatorship? Please go ahead and show them, but make them count in the overall picture.

I'm not sure whether it was about a girl struggling with the reality or a society fighting for their freedom. It was a little bit of both but not quite enough. And that is sad because there is a lot of potential in the plot as such.

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