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I am a chiropractor, and as such am bound by social pressure to always be a representative of chiropractic. Being a christian I also represent Christ. Being a citizen of the United States of America I represent my country. If I were to evangelize or debate politics on my professional site though I would turn some people off, and I want everyone to be able to come to my practice without feeling judged or threatened. If you would like my professional comments please visit the links provided. With that in mind this is not a professional blog, and I will be exercising my freedom of speech here. I will express my opinion and hope that you too will be willing to express yours. Please comment, question, and enjoy my personal blog. I plan too.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hunger Games Series Review

I expected the entire trilogy to be Katniss' eye-opening journey of who she is and what she symbolized, to her family, self, loved ones and to oppressed people of the districts.  I liked her character in the first book.  She was  bold and strong and there were real connections to the other characters.  The only problems I had with the first book was the tense and perspective, understandable because of the genre.  She began pure and wanted nothing more than to be left alone.  She experienced a first childhood romance, but knew it wasn't yet full. She had seen tragedy and wanted to protect those around her.  She really began the story by trying to keep her sister safe from the hunger games.  This was her first real plot choice.

She knew real evil, the Capitol.  She knew she was a pawn.  She did not want to be a pawn, she didn't even want to play the game.  She played hard in the first book, because she had a reason.  Her reason for playing was manipulated and changed through the books as her character grew, but then it stopped developing in the third book and disappeared all together.  The atrocities she faced did not develop either and so became moot.

The one stable trait in the whole series was her ability to empathize and have compassion even upon enemies, the things that they listed that moved them when she failed at acting for the camera.  Then in the end she votes for the hunger games, but still goes back to be a mom. So, did she loose her compassion or didn't she.  Knowing the evil did she choose to become it, but then not?  No explanation in the book, or even a build up to it.  In fact the book felt like one of my old high school papers when I knew I'd easily make the page number requirement.  She put great work into the first two books and less effort into detail as the ending came close.  She slacked off.  The storyline of the third book struggled without single idea like the hunger games to revolve around.  Collins was stuck with character development as her centerpiece in the last book without a guiding plot and she didn't excel at it.

Katniss had the example of such good characters sacrificing for her, but did not ever choose to sacrifice herself despite saying she would for everyone. She was willing to be the Mockingjay not in self sacrifice to inspire people, but in selfishness to get what she wanted.  She didn't put her all into helping others she simple huddled in closets.  Her sister became wise and chose to put her all into helping.  There is no extreme middle in the fight against evil.  The author tries to show Katniss succumbing to evil but doesn't.  Then she throws in an epilogue that seems to say, “don't worry she gets over it and has kids.  Oh, and nothing happened to her Mom or Gale they weren't important anyway.”

Collins left the reader with nothing noble to cling to, no answers and no purpose.  Every other character in the book was understandable and had a purpose that they achieved, but not Katniss.  We the reader followed the one pointless character in the whole book, a teenage girl.  Goodness tried to give her wings and evil forced her to action, but she never made a choice to embrace anything or to grow up.  Her character was incoherent.  A
reader can only take so many breakdowns before the character becomes pointless.  Collins was building a strong heroine in the first 2 books, and lost her somewhere.  

The love triangle got ridiculous at times, but that's how teen love is. Peeta's love was probably a little too true and devoted being 100% even before they had a chance to nurture it.  Again this is acceptable for the genre.  Then he is last seen in the capitol trying to keep himself from killing Katniss because of his hijacking, and then suddenly with no effort on the part of the reader he is back in love and planting flowers and having kids. I can follow the path in my mind, but the author spent hundreds of pages building up to something like this and then leaves it off in a few sentences rather than telling the story.  Gale was more realistic as they grew apart as childhood sweethearts, but not as friends, and despite their differences they would always be friends, yet no phone calls or even a real mention of him in the epilogue.  Where'd he go Collins?

Coin was a stupid character and too underdeveloped for her ultimate fate to be so important in the plot.  She was supposed to be a the extreme other end of the spectrum from Snow.  I speculate that's where her name came from, given for the other side of the same coin that was Snow.  Huge decision, shocking to the reader and no explanation.  Ok perhaps she wanted the reader to be forced to think about it.  Coin seems too stupid to have become president, not even knowing how to diplomatically handle the demands of Katniss and turn them into a win for everyone.  She's too shallow for that and we might like her too much if she had depth.  After all she's the opposite of Snow in not using subtlety or depth of reason.

Every person was a slave in the story the capitol citizens the districts and even district 13's people.  Collins made attempts to show this, but not a single character acknowledges it and so she doesn't give any opening for her readers to accept this either.

I hated the first person present, and the author had trouble maintaining it slipping past tense and present sometimes even into the same sentences.  I'm surprised her editors let it slide so often.  The story feels like it would have been better told from an alternating view point from third to first or from the past tense.  I found it interesting that the author actually began in the present and finished in what felt like the past.  She lost her readers
by having the story get farther and farther from the teller rather than drawing them closer and closer.  Her sentence fragments and poor flow was distracting and gave her readers not only tied tongues but also great opportunities to put the book down in frustration.

The idea of 12 districts each only doing one industry and yet able to create such a wealth of diversity was ridiculous, but acceptable for a youth novel. 

One last gripe, why didn't the tributes just all band together to stay alive?  They all hate the capitol not each other so just spend your time working together to avoid the dangers of the arena the capitol still has their games and the last one alive still wins, but at least they maintain their souls.  Sure the capitol could kill them for it, but they're going to die anyway and they fight either way.  This way they just choose to fight the real enemy. Then it's the capitol killing their children rather than their children killing each other.  You would think at least the past victors would have done that after all holding hands on stage the night before. Even if there were one or two who did fight you'd have 20 tributes all working together. 

I don't regret reading the series, and the story was interesting, but I'd only give it 2/3 stars as the first 2 books were good and the third just kind of faded out.


Abby said...

Agreed. You've expressed everything I felt about the series really. I was frustrated that Collins couldn't get that third book to do all it ought to have. I'm curious to see if they make all three books into movies and make changes in the third movie that improve the story...we shall see.

A better YA Distopian was Divergent. The verdict's still out though because books 2 and 3 are still not done. However, I enjoyed the 1st one more than the Hunger Games as a whole.

Erin said...

I definitely agree about the third book getting totally lost and just kind of meandering around. It didn't feel like it had a point, and the thing with Coin was out of the blue. Although I guess, like you said, Collins may have wanted the reader to look back for the clues and the connect the dots themselves on that one.

I think one thing you may be overlooking though, is human nature. Maybe you're expecting too much from Katniss' character development toward the end. In all reality, she probably would be so traumatized and messed up from her life and all that had happened, that she was lucky to accomplish what she did! Sometimes authors go too far the other way, pretending that their protagonists are perfect super-heroes who can do anything, with no actual repercussions to their life or psyche. Same thing with the idea of all the tributes just banning together: you have to take into account human nature. Automatically you have the group of "careers" who you will have to fight, no matter what, because otherwise they will kill you, because they actually want to. You could try to join up with the others, but how will you ever be able to trust them? They did do this in the second book, but it was more realistic because Katniss didn't know they were really trustworthy, and so she spent the whole time waiting for one of them to kill her in her sleep. In that kind of situation, especially with rewards for the victor, their families, and their entire district, there just would be no way to believe anything that anyone said. You wouldn't be able to put your life in their hands.

Altogether, though, I agree that the series just kind of lost its way there at the end. I have noticed that in A LOT of series, actually, that they can start off strong, but never seem to satisfy in the end. I just read Divergent also. It was very good, I will read the rest of the series, but I don't think this first book was nearly as well developed as Hunger Games was.

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