The Hunger Games: My Love/Hate Relationship

I just finished reading the trilogy.  I realize I’m probably behind the eight ball here as far as popularity is concerned but after seeing the first movie, I was inspired to read the books.  This, for me, is backward.  I generally love a book and can’t wait for the movie.

I digress.  I spent the last week reading the entire trilogy thanks to my new Kindle.  I have mixed feelings about these books, the message and mostly, the main character.



The first book, HUNGER GAMES, was gut wrenching.  The world is an ugly place after years of war.  The story takes place in a world with 13 districts, though the 13th is thought to be destroyed.  The capitol is full of wealth, greed and gluttony, led by Snow, the main villain, per se.  I could really feel the main character’s (Katniss,) pain and confusion.  She’s forced into an unimaginable situation, taking the place of her little sister, who was pulled to be in the Hunger Games.  Katniss is from District 12, a poor coal mining district.  She has a close relationship with a boy named Gale, though it’s not very romantic.  No one expects her to win, least of all, herself.  Her male counterpart, Peeta, is in love with her, a fact Katniss is mostly oblivious to most of the time.  After a bloody game, it’s down to Katniss and Peeta.  In a moment of defiance, Katniss offers Peeta a suicide pact with poison berries and boom – game over.

Book two, Catching Fire, Katniss and Peeta go on the victory tour.  The now painful love triangle pulls at Katniss, though she doesn’t seem to feel particularly strong one way or the other.  In an unexpected turn, Katniss and Peeta have been thrown into the Quarter Quell – another Hunger Game.  The games are interrupted as a civil war breaks out and Katniss spends most of the book either oblivious to her situation, or worried about Peeta.

Book three – the Mockingjay. Ugh. What a horrid last book.  Katniss spends a large amount of the book in a drugged stupor, still oblivious to the world around her, torn between Peeta and Gale or pissed at them.  The world is depending on her to be a strong leader and instead, she’s defiant and petty a lot of the time.  She has her moments of strength, but most of her strength is her image and the hope she brings.  Other than that, she’s useless to the cause and pretty much the worst female lead I’ve read in a long time.  I realize she’s only supposed to be 17 but …I think my 17 year old daughter has more moxie.  She’s already stood up to a tyrant and she did it with gusto, not drugged and whimpering, making irrational demands.  Even the end of the war has little to do with her.  The president dies, another villain dies, a lot of pointless death (as with any war, not a criticism of the book.)

What I liked: The writing was good, even though it was YA and a bit too staccato for my taste.  But it’s not made for middle aged mommies. The deeper message is one that every needs to grasp.  It is up to us to obliterate tyrannical doucheweeds who stuff their guts to the brim while others work their fingers to the bone and beg for scraps.  The “Power of One” message is pretty strong throughout the books, which is also of value.  I liked how chivalrous some of the men would be, a glance into the finer times in our own world.  The oppression is so transparent that it’s easy for someone who may have never felt it, certainly understands the concept by the end.  Peeta and Katniss’s disgust with the wastefulness in the capitol while their families do the best they can with illegally caught rodents from the woods, send a strong moral message as well.  Though I found Katniss’s character to be lacking, the greater message was there and worth the read.

What I disliked: At the risk of being redundant, Katniss.  Leaders can be vulnerable, but she’s flat out weak.  I’m annoyed to have a female lead who “settles” in the end.  Not a great message for our daughters.  She’s oblivious, spends a lot of time drugged and she’s a whiny brat.

I also take issue with the level of violence in what is targeted to young adults.  It can be argued it’s meant as a New Adult novel, but it’s tagged as young adult which can be as young as 12.

It’s not hard to see why this continues to be a best seller and box office smash hit, but I am disappointed in the way it all ends.  I wasn’t left feeling satisfied, or wanting more.  But I was left with a bit WTF on my face.


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