Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

I'd heard a lot of very good things about this book, so honestly, I expected to love it. And then to my shock, I didn't, exactly. Now don't get me wrong, I intend to read Catching Fire (the next book in the series) as soon as I can get my grubby hands on it. Certain parts of this story and the world-building therein swallowed me entire and are still putting up shelves in my head. On the other hand, other plot pieces made me grind my teeth with frustration, to the point that I was up till four composing this rant in my head.

(Then I promptly forgot it when I staggered awake. Note to self- don't do that again.)

(Also, this rant is going to contain spoilers. If you don't want to read them, don't read the rant)

Okay, let's go through this methodically. Katniss's story is set in a Dystopian Future, in District Twelve of Panem. Each year the Capitol requires each district to send a tribute of a boy and a girl (in addition to everything else the district produces,) to fight to the death in a televised event known as The Hunger Games. This is basically just to prove to all off the districts that they're just cannon fodder and entertainment for The Capital, in case they missed it. (We don't want the colonials to miss it!) The winner gets all kinds of bonuses for their district, and fame and glory- and the loosers die on national television. So far, so good. Machiavellian control, and the details of the world and the system were fantabulous. *hands them nails to help put up shelves*

Katniss's little sister Prim, who is twelve, is one of the children chosen at Random. Katniss, panicking, volunteers in her place. Also good. And it's not really touching since we're in Katniss's head for the book, and this is clearly just the only thing she can do. Not an option, it's just what you do. I did like that part, and it fit very well with Katniss's serious, do-what-needs-to-be-done personality.

The guy whose name is picked is Peeta, who Katniss has an awkward relationship with due to the fact that he probably saved her from starving once. Now, you know, she's going to have to try and kill him. (Also, she never thanked him for the life-saving thing, and any time she thanks him now is just bound to come across as insincere, or just plain not the right time. Throat cutting anyone?) He is nice, and gentle, quiet, pretty good looking, Katniss admits grudgingly, and smart.

It's also clear that Katniss is strong, fast, stealthy, accurate, and pretty much the muscle (and the cunning and beauty) between the two. She's a survivor, everyone says. She's also out of her debth in the Capital, where there are interviews and a training period before the games kick off. This media exposure is vitally important to the survival of any tribute, because for an outrageous fee, "sponsors" can send things to the tributes while the games are ongoing. This is the only contact with the outside world that the tributes will have, and the aid of some water, or food, or a new weapon or armour, or medicine, can be game-changing. But- the sponsors only send you things when they like you. So look good on video...

Katniss only manages to look flighty, in her estimation. Peeta, on the other hand, announces that he's in love with Katniss, and the audience LOVES the star-crossed-lovers bit. LURVE. Katniss, on the other hand, is naht quite so delighted. In fact there is blood, but cannier heads prevail, and she is forced to agree that it makes them both memorable, therefore more sponsor-able, therefore Peeta's a marketing genius, the b***ard, and now she has to kiss him?

(Up to this point, I basically loved the entire story. The games. The world. The stylists and the Mentor. (I less than three Cinna and the Mentor who's name I've forgotten right now. The drunk guy?) The little throwaway detail of the Avox? COMPLETELY BESOTTED. *I go to the store to get all details more material for shelves*)

And then the games start. I will admit that I like intrigue better than violence. Battles of wits have always been closer to my heart than battles of fists. But a good fight is also good for the heart rate.

These fights did nothing for my heart rate.

I think that's not a good thing. If I'm reading about a girl fighting for her life, I want there to be an absolute minimum of yawning on my part. But that's just my opinion, and perhaps I should have read the story when I was fresh, not after midnight.

Anyhow, the games progress. Katniss finds out that Peeta is fighting against her, and then wait he just saved her life, and there were these bees, and it's all very confusing. But after a time, with cunning fun with mines and flowers, there's a rule change announced. There CAN be two winners, if they're both from the same district. The Star Crossed Lovers suddenly have Fate-In-The-Form-Of-The-All-Powerful-Capital smile on them!

And, okay, you know there's a second book, you know they both survive. But once they get out and back into TEH DEADLY INTRIGUE, it turns out that the Capital is not happy with the way the rules had to be bent to keep everyone happy, and they'd better have unmistakable public declarations of love (This is a YA book, keep your mind out of the gutter,) or it will become clear that they were playing the men in charge, and then they die, as do their families.

The love thing, the intrigue, I loved it all. It was cunning and wonderful. *takes a moment to huggle* On the other hand, there were the games themselves.

This is where I began to beat my head against a wall.

Okay, so it's a fight to the death. Yes? Yes. At some point with 24 fighters, you'd think that Katniss at some point or other would have to make a hard decision- do I kill them? It's him or me but I want to live. Some kind of struggle. Moral struggle, yes? Or even if she's going HELL no, I want to live! I'm shooting first- she's sixteen. She's never killed anyone. She might have a hesitation before firing, or some regret later.

Nope. None of this. Because of the way the deaths "happen," her two kills are a vengance killing (revenging a twelve year old girl who liked to sing. I mean, can you tug the heartstrings more? CAN YOU?) and a mercy killing. (Of the nastiest, most possibly-insane character. NO regret there.) Basically she survived a death tourney with her hands clean.


*pulls head away from wall* Now, if it was because she was extra cunning and stealthy, I could accept that better, but basically no, everyone killed each other for her while she was busy buying food with kisses.

I mean, I know this is YA, but, I mean, trauma plz? Shouldn't there be some PTSD? I WANT PTSD.


Okay, perhaps I should read Catching Fire before ranting about this. Maybe I should never loudly express my desire for characters to suffer from PTSD.

BUT~! And again I say BUT- Peeta is the "gentle, sweet, quiet" character, and HE kills people outright. Katniss is supposed to be the "strong, cunning, survivor" character! She has more guilt about an Avox than about anything she does in the games! *sulk* I DEMAND EQUAL RIGHTS FOR GUILT.

Okay, I'm done now. I gave it three stars out of five. I want Catching Fire NOW please. *scrabbles at locked door of uncaring library*

This book clearly brings out the best in me.

P.S. Possibly my anger at the Games is because I read a draft of a story a friend had written, which was SO MUCH BETTER. I am srys, it was wonderful and I stare at her to finish it. It dealt with the MORAL ISSUES OF KILLING PEOPLE, and also I kinda want to kidnap Varesh and feed him chocolate till he's my friend. Please, you know who you are. Please write DimTour. I will totally mail you chocolate from exotic places.

AND ALSO- The mutts. I say in all seriousness, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? It was two a.m. when I was reading this, and I thought I had fallen asleep and started writing strange things into the story again. I had to literally bang my head on a doorframe and call up someone on the internet, to verify that what I was reading was the right book. WHAT? What is the POINT? Could you not have added wild dogs, or just plan supra clever wild dogs, without making them- what were they even supposed to me? Zombies? I just don't see the POINT! For me it was the only real false note in the whole book. Is it explained in Catching Fire? I just am so confused...


Merc said...

I think at the end, the mutts were supposed to me... a psychological warfare tactic? It was a bit random.

*is way entertained at your review*

I agree, the 'heroine keeps her hands clean' was a bit convenient, I can't quite tell if it's to keep her "good" or what.

Happily, there is more intrigue than fights in the next book... %-)

shield maiden said...

LOL! I gave the book 5 out of 5 stars but I also love your review and you make some good points (it was also highly entertaining to read! :)).

If you want a read that is morally controversial (in fact, it caused a lot of tension in Japan where it was initially published), read Battle Royale. I was highly impressed with that book.

The premise of Battle Royale is similar in that a young group of teenagers are taken and they have to kill each other until there is only one winner. The killings are a way to keep dissent from rising.

The main difference is that it takes place in an alternate reality where Japan wins WWII and becomes a facist government.

The nice thing about the writing of this book is that each teenager is explored in-depth (and to a great amount of detail). You can't help but be emotional attached to every character and to know that they will have to die.

There is TONS of paranoia, regret, revenge, reminiscing, etc. The nice thing about it too is that it isn't always a free for all where everyone goes off on their own and wants to eventually win the game. It is more complex. There are times where the teenagers want to group together and overthrow the regime that is running the games.

*whew* Definitely recommend it if you want something that is more mature/complex. HOWEVER, if you are sensitive to graphic violence, I don't know if it would be a good thing to read it. There were times when I just had to put the book down and walk away for a couple of minutes. It's not a light-hearted read, but definitely a good one.

Spartezda said...

Hm, I suppose I saw Katniss's not really killing people as...there wouldn't be as much point, since she IS a tough survivor character. The emotional entanglements she had to navigate were much more difficult for her, since she's so out of her depth, while hunting and killing is much easier. Peeta killing was much more interesting to me than Katniss doing so, since that was an unexpected element to Peeta.

I never did think both of them would survive. I was shocked, at the end of the book. Like, staring at the page open-mouthed.

And indeed, MUCH more intrigue than fighting in Catching Fire. %-)

Merc said...

Huh. Weirdly, I wasn't that shocked they both lived. I mean, yes, I expected Peeta would die since Katniss is the POV narrator (and as much as I have no problem with dead first-person narrators, I didn't really think this would pull that card)... but strangely I wasn't that surprised when he did live. *scratches head*

I'm not sure why...

Spartezda said...

Huh. I suppose to tend to expect the worst from YA authors especially ('I will kill you, and your family, and your pet deer too! And for maximum agony, I will do it two seconds before rescue arrives!')

Or maybe I'm just used to authors killing off favorite characters... *eyes Merc darkly*

Merc said...

That's true... O:) YA and horror and... hrm, well, I kinda expect the worst whenever I like a certain character too much. BECAUSE IT'S A CONSPIRACY. *looks darkly at various dead favorite characters*

(If I was a character, I would agnst over becoming that which I curse at--someone who kills off characters people like. %-))

This is why I fear for three people in book 3... o.O (And no, not Kat and Peeta.)

Snazel said...

@ Shield Maiden: I actually have Battle Royale in my TBR pile, I'm just working my way up to it. I, uh, am not USED to graphic violence, let's just say.

@ Sparky: I do agree, that Peeta killing people was VERY interesting. (I like to tell myself that Peeta is playing a double game and not really in love.) I just thought there should have been more moral repercussion to Katniss for killing people? *stops herself before she rants again* Basically I need to read Catching Fire. Now. :D

@ Merc: Yay Intrigue! Maybe Katniss kills Pres. Snow. ^_^ Heheheh, I'm glad I amuse you. And you must tell me who you fear for after I read Catching fire! Gale, perhaps? :D

Merc said...

Yup, I'll be glad to tell you (fearfully) once you read Catching Fire. O:)

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Just the numbers, sir...