So, when you’re queued up for tests involving sedation of any kind, it’s best to pick up a book you don’t care if you remember anything about. I’d read The Hunger Games back in September but had no great urge to read the sequels, but low and behold you could borrow them for free on the Kindle and I didn’t care about whether I remembered them or not. They foot the bill perfectly.
It took a grand total of three days to read the second two books, and that was around hospitals and work. So, I think I estimated that I spent five hours on each one. They were diverting and entertaining, but I think that’s about the best that can be said for them. Here’s why (SPOILERS TO FOLLOW):
Katniss is just a tool. Yes, she can be badass when she wants to. No, I would never be able to accomplish the feats of willpower and strength that she does. HOWEVER. In the second and third books she is constantly being manipulated, kept out of the loop, and is, in essence, a pawn for both sides of the revolution, regardless of the fact that District 13 keeps pretending she’s their queen. She’s not. And by the time you reach the end of the third book, she’s no longer even an active participant in anything. It’s not her who breaks down the stronghold, she just gets to watch her sister die. It’s not her who catches and kills President Snow. She’s around, but what she does makes no actual difference to the revolution. In fact, President Coin keeps trying to off her because she thinks the Mockingjay would make a better martyr than figurehead.
And so, at the end, we’re left with a broken and ineffectual girl who, when they try one more time to use her–this time as Snow’s executioner–who finally makes a difference and kills the harpy Coin instead. The one decent act Katniss was given in the entire latter half of the third book.
I spent a lot of time asking myself if I would have made different choices as a writer and what the choices that Collins made actually did for the characters and the story. In The Hunger Games, I feel like the author actually did make the best choices for story and character. Katniss, while being played by her sponsors and the government, was still and active character making a difference in her world. Collins strips this away from her towards the end of the trilogy and I found that extremely disappointing. I probably would have decided to make her the damn hero and sure as hell wouldn’t have killed her sister. The only point that had was to make her choose one boy over another and it just ended up feeling contrived.
All that being said, I will definitely make the case that I would prefer to have children reading these books over Twilight ANY day. They’re bloody and vicious, but are very well written at a sentence, paragraph, character arc, cultural enrichment level. I may dislike what Collins did with Katniss’s character, but I still think she was on to something with all of this. Maybe not quite as strong as Harry Potter, but definitely in the running for good books for young adults to read.
As for the movie? It did a pretty good job sticking to the first book, except for cutting a few unnecessary characters and having one riot too early. Otherwise, my only complaint was that Peeta wasn’t hot enough. Especially if she ends up choosing him in the end…