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Lizreader's Blog

Also known as Liz on GR. I am here, but really just planting the seed. I am a student who likes all kinds of books, and I'll be honest about what I think about them.

Currently reading

The Mists of Avalon
Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1) - Suzanne Collins I've rewritten this review many times, mostly because I thought I written too much of a rant and not enough substance as to why I dislike The Hunger Games with a passion. What I have written is the most definitive and up-to-date review. If you do leave comments please be respectful. I understand a lot of people like this book, and I am glad you do. I just don't. We can agree on that can't we? WARNING VERY LONG REVIEW AHEAD.If I could give this book zero stars I would. This book has given me migraines for an in class presentation in a 300 LEVEL POLI SCI class where we should have been discussing the days reading in the first ten minutes (and the rest of the class), instead two girls decided that for their participation credit they wanted to tie in The Hunger Games with two philosophers we talked about at least four or five weeks prior (the movie opened that week) in a presentation (we were allowed to bring in current topics to tie in with the reading--for the week not the last month). It has made me sick to my stomach because of how much praise it was getting on my friends FB feeds and how everyone who was everyone had read the book. Let me tell you, not even Twilight made me this sick (and it did make me sick--but not as much because at least it seems there are polarizing sides. It seems THG has nothing but fans of plenty, as opposed to dissenting views like my own). I'll start off by saying that I am an open minded person (much more so than I really should be in all honesty). I love dystopian, or post-apocalyptic, fiction in general. I first heard about the stories from my roommate in college who was a fan (but she was also an overzealous Harry Potter fan that made it difficult for me to take her seriously about anything, but I regressed). I didn't think much about it, until everyone started talking about it because the movie was coming out. Fine. I get it I should read it. It will change my life...blah blah blah. Where have I heard that before? Twilight and Harry Potter, but to be fair to HP I do like the series but I am not in love with it as others are. I grew up. I liked it as a kid, but now I like other wizards like Harry Dresden. So sue me.Anyways, enough about my initial feelings down to the hard care reasons as to why THG is one of the worst books I have ever read, and why it is not truly a dystopian book. It's a wannabee dystopian book for those who have not read (or like) the "classic dystopian." It's popcorn fiction without any real meaning, even if it tries to do so (rather poorly). If you want real dystopian please check out "1984" by George Orwell or even in the YA genre "Unwind" by Neal Shusterman that actually did make me think. 1. WORLD BUILDINGIn fantasy and science fiction, especially in dystopian literature world building is extremely important for the reader to get a sense as to how the world came to be. THG depends on all the tropes of dystopian literature: war, poverty, etc. What I would like to know is what about the rest of the world? Canada? Mexico? Europe? Asia? They can't be completely cut off from the rest of the world. Even 1984 has that handled. Panem and 13 (but now 12) districts does not seem to make any sense to me at all. How would the fifty states transgress into thirteen different territories? I know this is in the future, but I would like a better handling of the world building. There is no way in the future we will have gladiatorial games where kids kill other kids. It won't happen. The Romans when they had their games were male participants and were normally of adult age--which at that time were in the upper teen years I know. Still it was entertainment, which was provided by slaves and criminals. Not citizen's kids! I felt like she never gave me anything to chew on when it came to her world. The world of Panem is supposed to be a frightening regime, but what are their beliefs? They are power hungry, but are they facists? I think they are supposed to be, but the world does not seem super conservative...rather bleak. Bleak in the sense that one cannot understand how the world came to be except: war. The world has seen war again and again through time, but despite the huge costs of these wars things got BETTER (through a gradual time frame. It's not perfect, but better than before anyways). Suzanne Collins does not look at history, nor at how human behavior in all its facets. She wanted to write about war affecting kids, but I never believed for a moment she read things like "What is the What" and the effect of child soldiers or talking to grown adults who had lived through the Vietnam War era and what that was like. Her research seemed extremely thin and unbelievable. However, it seems more and more the YA dystopian is more about unbelievable scenarios than the real look of human nature. 2. SPEAKING OF HUMAN NATURE LET'S TALK ABOUT THE "STRONG" HEROINE KATNISS EVERDEEN!One of the reasons I dislike this book so much is the fact that people proclaim that Katniss is a strong, female role model who doesn't take shit. Yeah, well....she's UNBELIEVABLE AS A CHARACTER. I hate how detached she is. We are supposed to care about her as a character, but all I get is "Prim this" "Prim that." I understand she cares for her sister, and that is a positive trait to have but her character never builds from there. We don't get an insight (even though this is first person) as to how she deals with things. She just does, but not the "how." She looks out for her own, and for Peeta too...but she never shows ANY EMOTION. One would think living in the world she does that she will have built up defenses, which is very understandable but we never see her crack--even just a little. She's in a super tense filled situation throughout the course of this book, and we never get a sense that she doesn't know what to do but to stay alive. No one has all the answers, but it seems like Katniss does. I like my strong female characters to show emotion every once in awhile. If Suzanne Collins intent was to get a picture of how war affects children and opressed societies maybe she should have done her research a little better since there are books about child soldier and the effects of war on children. Again, a sad case of not enough research. 3. SUPPORTING (FLAT) CHARACTERS (EXCEPT HAYMITCH & CINNA)I hate it when supporting characters are cardboard cut outs of tropes. Gale is the best friend and hunting partner, and what else? Oh that's right a LOVE interest. When did dystopian literature get into love triangles? Where is the love side of "Fahrenheit 451" "Brave New World" "1984" "Oryx and Crake (well at least that one is semi-believable)? I know it is in the genre, but for once I would like it to take a back seat...but it doesn't because the fans love the romance in The Hunger Games so that Peeta and Katniss can stay alive. Oh pleas...just wake me up. Gale, Peeta, Prim, Rue (yes Rue we don't know her that well and then she dies), and there is Haymich and Cinna who to be honest are probably the most well written characters in the entire novel. Why is it the adult writers can write better adult characters than the younger set? Probably because they know the motivations better and make sense, and the fact they are closer to the age than a blossoming young adult. Still, the supporting characters were lacking. If the featured protagonists were strong I wouldn't complain as much, but they weren't. Flat characters do not help progress a novel at all. Fleshed out characters do. 4. DEUS EX MACHINA ENDING!According to Webster's Dictionary Dues Ex Machina means: a person or thing (as in fiction or drama) that appears or is introduced suddenly and unexpectedly and provides a contrived solution to an apparently insoluble difficultyWhat I really dislike about this entire book (and the sequel as well) is that everything seems a bit too unbelievable where the ending (or events) are concerned. Things just happen randomly without any explanation but "the capital can do this!" Well if the Capital can do this, than why don't they just let the two main characters die because don't they want to show how much control they have? I mean for Pete's Sake, they start their own downward revolution with letting Katniss live (revolutions start another's mistakes that is true, but for Pete's Sake if they have so much power they should have been better in their implementation. How do you think a lot of stuff in history happened? Because people made people believe things were worth it, and what does the Capital do? Let the two sparks of hope live. Great job. They should have killed Katniss through the back door, like any good real Fascist society does. Blame it on sickness or something for the public so they won't know their true intentions. That's more believable. 5. PROSEYA isn't known for its elegiac prose or sublime confidence in craft (well there are a few authors who do stand above). Still, in a dystopian novel I had hoped the prose would be a little heightened, but I guess since it was first person from a poorer district it would make sense. Still, the author could have challenged her readers. I could have read this when I was seven or eight, and I don't care what people say about the kids killing kids. We sing nursery rhymes that are worse at a younger age (and we don't even know it till we are grown up)! (we sing songs about plagues and the London Bridge has a number of nefarious underlying meanings that are not certain but thought about). This is a young adult novel meaning in the tween to teen years. Madeline L'Engle could do better in her middle grade book "A Wrinkle in Time"! Even Harry Potter was better! ConclusionI know a lot of people will not agree with me, and I respect that. This is only my own opinion, and as a political science major I am really hard on dystopian literature in general. What I can't understand is why people like this book so much when it is paper thin and obviously not researched well enough. I know some like the love aspect, while others like Katniss and what she stands for. How about people like Hannah Arendt? Why can't there be more young adult novels about real heroines that are "heroes" in their own right. Sally Ride? Eleanor Roosevelt? Heck, I even like Meridia from "Brave" better than Katniss because she shows emotions! I just don't understand what all the fuss is about. I wish I knew because I feel like I didn't even read the same book as everybody else.