Wednesday, May 9, 2012
The Hunger Games Saga, into the Deep
A few years ago, when everybody was talking about the books and way back when there was no Hunger Games movie, I checked the first installment out of curiosity. I read the back cover and just couldn't feel it. It didn't grab me or speak to me, so I let it go. Every now and then someone would say how fantastic these books were and I went back to amazon, read the blurb once more, and let it drop. Finally the movie came and all hell broke lose. People comparing it to the greatest books ever written, the obvious mention of Twilight and how Katniss Everdeen was the ultimate strong female role. You know, craziness. I decided I had to see for myself what all the rage was and sure as heck I wasn't watching the movie first, so I bought the three books. I read them in the spam of one week, unable to put them down, and upon finishing the third one, my feelings are mixed. As a whole I didn't like the story, but each book in itself, I enjoyed the first two quite a lot. I thought about it and thought a bit more and then decided I had too much to tell to just write a simple review, hence the plan I previously laid out for you. I'm hoping this will clarify my own feelings about the story and will be fun for us to share. Here we go.
The Hunger Games.
When I was considering to read the books, not knowing if I was going to like them, I came across a review on Goodreads that stuck in my mind. It was a negative review of only the first book, she didn't thought the story had any message or uplifting trace, only a society so depraved it could watch its kids kill each other for fun. An uproar came after her calling her names and pointing the fact that she had obviously not read the whole saga. Her defense? The first book of a series should give the reader a taste of what's to come. One should know what we're up to after the first book is gone and in this case, I have to give it to her, The Hunger Games does not fairly represent the story as a whole.
I found this to be the lightest of the three books, I laughed a little, cried not so little, but had hope that better things were to come for Katniss and Peeta. The story is engrossing and the characters are well written. Katniss' relationship with her family and Gale is easy to understand and feel for; we know what lies in the line and why it is so important for her to step up and do as best she can. We also understand what she's to confront and how poor her chances are. We only get a taste of Gale, but still the first traces of what will define the story in the future are set in motion for us to see. By far my favorite character was Peeta. He's likable, sweet, and stronger than everybody thinks. The genius of telling the story through Katniss' eyes is that she is so clueless as to what is about to happen that it all comes as a surprise for us, too. There are no tell-tale remarks or whispers that foreshadow something to come, we are just hit by surprise. Haymitch is a pathetic guy we see grow if only just a little through the story and our hearts warm towards him as we progress in the story.
Technical points. The pace is rapid and you can't wait to know what's to come. The language is clear and simple, yet interesting; it pulls you into the world Collins created without many distractions that break the enchantment. What we need to know about the background is laid out and distributed through the story without dumping it on you all in one page. The one drawback of writing in first person and in present tense--pay attention, most books are written in past tense even though the action is taking place right now. However, Collins used present, making it sound like Katniss' thoughts--is that some information feels unnatural. Katniss already knows the distribution of the districts and the facts of the Dark Days, yet she repeats those in her mind for our benefit. But we do needed this information and there was no other way, so I let this one slide.
I liked the transitions, seamless and easy to follow, days pass yet we never get lost in time or find the characters in places they were not supposed to be. In general, I have to make special mention of the excellent team of editors that checked fact after fact of this trilogy to keep it logical and consistent. Outstanding. Of course, a big kudos to Suzanne Collins, too, who did not fall pray to the temptation of making her characters act without reason.
Now, to perception. The way the story developed, how it centered on Katniss' motivations to keep fighting, her relationship with Peeta, her kindness and pain for all who had to die for the Capitol, all in the pages led me to believe this was to be the story of a girl forced to grow too fast but that, with the help of her support system, would rise to become a strong young woman leading a war for the liberation of her people. I couldn't be more wrong.
After reading the three books I cry FALSE ADVERTISEMENT, but I'll delve into that in the future. For the moment being I'll tell you The Hunger Games is highly addictive, interesting and very well written. I completely understand why it ignited the fire--pun intended--that it did. You should totally read it for its entertaining value, but do not expect a moral. This is not the book for that. The trilogy as a whole has a message, it just isn't on this book and, when it is all said and done, it isn't a pretty, uplifting one.
To be continued...