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Jules Howard

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games  - Suzanne  Collins 1.5 stars

Some spoilers....

Well yet again I just do not know what the fuss is about. Even thought I went in with low expectations I still managed to be disappointed. I suppose that was not entirely surprising considering the hype surrounding the book and the state of the YA book world. But it was still terribly sad to see a rather interesting premise brutalized at the hands of Collins.

To begin with, the writing style was very distracting. Collins is nothing if not. period. happy. What was with such short sentences? Sure she threw some long ones in there now and again but why such choppy and stilted writing? Is that how Katniss is supposed to be thinking in her head? I think I'd have to be on some meds to think like that. The writing style overall, which is weak in my opinion, led me to "feel" the presence of the author constantly. This is not something I can exactly explain but a feeling everyone has felt now and again. Collins also jumps back and forth between past and present at times without any cue to the reader. I've always found this more distracting than if there were signals of a flashback.

The choice of first person was atrocious. I was practically pleading for a different character perspective a third through as I was simply tired of Katniss. Also, why introduce so many characters if Katniss will barely even speak of them again? Gale, who is supposed to be of some importance, is largely missing. Wouldn't it have been nice to have a check-in with Gale or another competitor? Sure first person can be suspenseful and entertaining when done well but it was not in this case, in my opinion.

I don't know if it was simply Katniss or the first person choice but there was entirely too much telling and no showing. Perhaps it was Katniss since we are on her mental roller coaster for the entire book. One thing Katniss does well? Second-guessing and asking questions in her head. Every possible scenario is questioned: "will they do this? or that? should I do this? or that? are they thinking this? or that?". Ahh, get me out of her damn head!!!

Was Collins attempting to elucidate the human condition in some way? Because it seems like she only managed to have Miss America meet Survivor (with a little Lord of the Flies). I am still trying to figure out why the hell these contestants need to be waxed, beautified in every imaginable way and such for these supposedly brutal games. Does Katniss really need to have all her body hair waxed only to grow it all back in the weeks she is out there in the woods? Really? Even if you make that part of the "games" why the hell do we have to be on the beauty pageant scene for so damn long? And why do the contestants get trained? Would it not be as entertaining to these people if they are untrained? Doesn't the training simply allow for better skills for everyone and likely quicker deaths? Aren't they seeking brutality? And enough with the food already!!! Did we really need the constant talk of food? (Sure it can be used as a comparison between District 12 and eventually during the Hunger Games but I do not need to be bashed over the freakin' head with it.)

Katniss, along with most of the characters, I found extremely dull. When she did evoke emotion in me it was only to hope that she would be one to die. Despite being in her head, her emotional connections to people do not shine through and overall feel weak. Adding to the problem with Katniss is Collins' choice to not have Katniss actually kill anyone in the Hunger Games. Sure, she kills Rue's killer but only in revenge (can't hate her for that right? Let's completely forget she'd have to kill Rue to win anyway). She kills Cato but only out of supposed mercy, even though the lead-up was that he was pretty much psycho and should be killed. Foxface dies due to incorrect berry picking and subsequent poisoning. Let's be sure that Katniss can not have any moral dilemma with the reader! I for one would have found Katniss' potential evolution, for good or bad, welcome if she actually had to kill someone to survive instead of all the poor animals I had to constantly hear about. (He was a beautiful deer....not so beautiful with two arrows in him. But boy did he make me hungry looking at him bleeding to death! *paraphrasing from page 269*. Ugh.)

And WTF was with the mutant wolves at the end? I say it was an excuse for Katniss yet again to NOT to have to kill someone due to the game. Another WTF moment was the "twist" about two-thirds through. Oh yeah, I never saw that one coming. Come on! Totally predictable.

The romantic element in the book felt out of place. I could not help rolling my eyes at that little addition. Plus we all know where it's leading--love triangle. Why can no one write a book without a love triangle these days? As for Peeta's role in the romantic element I was really hoping it was all a game and then Bam!, he lost me when he really did have a thing for Katniss. Well there went another plot twist Collins could have used.

The world-building, can I call it that? There is not much of a background for the world. Why have the seas risen in this world? Global warming? Why is the U.S. such a disaster? Nuclear bomb? Asteroid? Wars with other nations? WHAT? Sure I know what happened to District 13 but WTF happened before the districts formed?! Plus, these "evil" leaders that we are meant to hate are so distant that you don't feel any of the supposed fear you should. Sure people are killed for stealing etc. but did Collins make these things truly impactful? No. Hell, Katniss does things that you could be killed for, supposedly, daily with no punishment so why should I worry about the terrible leaders?

Overall, a good premise that is treated very wrong. Stephen King has a quote on this book that baffles me. SK is obsessed with descriptions and background and he loved THIS? And so did everyone else apparently. I. just. don't. get. it.