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Friday Musings: Hungry?

Katniss-everdeen-costumeby Yvonne DiVita

In reference to the title today, have you read The Hunger Games books? Have you seen the first movie?

Well, I have. Read all three books and seen the movie. And, I'm left... unimpressed. Actually, I'm left feeling sad. THIS is what passes for good reading today? THIS is how low our expectations of novel and movie greatness have fallen?

Let's look at the big picture - first of all, the plot is absurd. The first job of any fiction story is to overcome the reader's disbelief. In other words, the reader needs to believe in the story. The deeper I got into the hunger games, the less I believed. 

Suzanne Collins wants me, a mother, to believe I would someday be forced to deliver up one of my children to certain death, and that I would do it for the good of the 'district.' I would not. Nor would any mother I know. Nor would any father I know go along with this stupid idea. Rather, we would all rise up and say, "Bomb us into oblivion, Captial. And when you're done and there is nothing left, enjoy."

So...that was a big issue for me. I actually don't think it's all that violent. No worse than cop shows on TV. IMBO

After I allowed myself to pretend people would go along with this premise, I did begin to enjoy Katniss. I appreciated her plight and her devotion to her sister. I appreciated her hunting talent. I couldn't get too attached to her 'friend' Gale because...he was pretty one-dimensional. He was angry - and while we're told why, we are never invited to feel why. Telling, not showing. A major flaw, IMBO.

When Peeta was introduced, at the Hunger Games themselves, I wanted to feel a connection to him, but... I didn't. He, too, was not developed very well. He's just a part of Katniss's memory... and when they have to work together during the games, he is also diminished to playing a supporting role, thrice removed.Hunger-games-movie

As the story progressed, over the length of three books, I wanted these characters to grow and mature. They did not. Gale, perhaps, grew and became a man and acted with honor and intent. Peeta became a charicature  of the lovelorn Romeo aching for his Juliet. Unfortunately, his Juliet, Katniss, not only did not grow and mature, she became whiney and annoying. By the end of the third book I was disappointed the author hadn't killed her off. The person that was killed of (spoiler alert) is Prim, Katniss's sister ... who really had such promise! To say I was disappointed is to put it mildly. Katniss just never became anything more than a reluctant heroine who complained incessantly - rather than taking charge, rising up and demanding her due.

Let's move on to the movie - a more poorly done movie does not exist. The extra special effects were... okay. Expected. Predicted. Katniss has no opportunity to bring us into her world, her life...because so much detail is left out. Peeta was well cast - he was a natural, but Gale...poor Gale, he had such a minor role...he could have been left on the cutting room floor and no one would have been the wiser. I think I would have liked to get to know Rue a little better. But, they did not want me to know her... so, her role was a minor one - easily killed off.

Prim was so poorly cast I almost cried. The girl who played her was... sad. I pictured someone else entirely... and the book reveals a completely different sort of girl. The woman who is the mother met the same fate - poorly cast. Because the book did a poor job of creating her, perhaps? Perhaps. These two characters are important to the story, but they are so underplayed as to be invisible.

I know this: The writing was/is mediocre. The story is predicable. I knew from page to page precisely what was going to happen. Sigh. I was eager to follow the story and the 'children' through the next two books, hoping for more suspense, more development, better writing... something worth praising, and was disappointed page after page after page. The characters plodded along like lemmings, forced to perform according to plotlines developed years ago in books that are better written than these books.

In the end, the biggest disappointment is that we allow the pundits and writers and PR professionals to market these books as the next best thing...to a Tolkein or a Harry Potter - as if they are. We watch our children reading the hunger games and we're happy they're reading something, I guess. We pay our money and buy our popcorn and watch the movie... and when it does not live up to the hype, we sigh, happy to have gotten out of the house for a few hours.

We are a society drowning in average - when will we come up for air? 

p.s. the actors in the movie generally pull it off - but, there is so much left out that for those who have not read the books, the movie is a long two hours of, "why? who? what ?"

Comments

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Yvonne DiVita

Fights back? Katniss? She was nothing but whiney and annoying. She ONLY fought back if she thought her sister was at risk. I want someone who's fighting for the good of everyone, not just herself. Sorry, these books fail on all fronts.

FLT

I really enjoyed these books. I don't think the premise was in any way supposed to be realistic (which pretty much sums up the dystopian genre). I read it thinking of the proposed legislation against women's control of their own bodies, and thought it unfortunately did not seem that unrealistic.

I thought it was great to have a spirited heroine who fights back (unlike Bella from Twilight) for girls.

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