Friday, January 27, 2012

The Hunger Games trilogy ~ Suzanne Collins

I have something fantastic to tell you about today.  You probably already know about it.  In fact, you probably knew that it was fantastic before I did.  That doesn't really matter.  What matters right now is The Hunger Games.Holy crap, why did nobody hit me over the head and force me to read this before??  I mean, come on.  It's me we're talking about.  I love dystopia and strong female characters.  Okay, maybe I don't say that enough here.  So consider this a warning.  Now you know.  Don't let it happen again.

I was disinterested at first.  When I first heard of The Hunger Games, I was intrigued by the fact that it was a dystopia but put off by the fact that it was classified as YA.  I feared that it would be underdeveloped and poorly written and all-around disappointing.  Which was rather elitist and silly (considering that I enjoyed the Uglies trilogy) and ultimately lost me out on years of enjoyment, because the only thing that makes The Hunger Games YA is the age of the protagonist and perhaps a slightly simpler writing style.

Just to note, this isn't going to be my full-fledged review - I listened to the series on audiobook and want to read it in print before I really get into things.  So let's talk about that.  I was actually put off at the beginning of the first book because of the reader - she sounded like a woman trying to sound younger who is trying to give a speech BuT Doesn'T nORmalLY Give SPeecheS and Over-eNUNciaTeS every word.  Also, the series is in the first person, and the narrator didn't do a good enough job differentiating between her narrative voice and her speaking voice, which sometimes made it tough to figure out when Katniss switched from dialogue to internal monologue.  But once I got past that, the story was insanely intense.

This is dark stuff.  There is real evil going on but not in the traditional "other" way, like with vampires - rather, in a "wow that's awful but I bet humans could actually be like that" kind of way.  The action is intense and incredibly emotional and made believable - there is not happily ever after here.  Katniss, the main character and first-person narrator, is great - complicated and passionate and strong but confused, and very naive.  Since I don't like to listen to audiobooks without something else to do (walking, washing dishes, driving, cleaning) because I get too restless, I had an incredibly clean apartment for the two-and-a-half weeks it took me to get through the entire trilogy because I just couldn't take the earbuds out and had a hard time thinking about other things when I wasn't reading.  Again, I'll review it in greater depth when I've actually read it, but suffice it to say that I really love this series and was continue to be emotionally invested in it (I bawled during the epilogue).

On a different note, I'm interested to compare the reading and listening experiences, as I've never read a book after only ever having heard it before.  I hope the reader's voice don't translate to the page, because I know that this series will be even better without her.


  1. I almost completely agree with you. I actually think book two is pretty weak in and of itself and only a stepping stone in the trilogy...but, and this is a big BUT, I think Katniss Everdeen, particularly in the first book, is one of the best female characters to come along in a long, long time. I LOVE that she's not always likeable and that she's strong and abrasive and unsure and confident and complicated and that she's attached but not sentimental. yeah.

    I really, really regretted that the author made the third book so largely love triangle-y, though I loved the realpolitik feel of that one.

    1. I actually really liked the second book - the return to the arena came as a huge shock to me, plus I enjoyed the bits where she's figuring out how to live in District 13 again - I guess I just like that sort of thing, as I don't read such action-oriented literature often.

      I guess the love triangle might have bothered me a bit, but I really appreciated Katniss's offended response at the beginning of Mockingjay when Coin asks her if she want Gale presented as her lover, and she's all like HOW CAN THAT POSSIBLY MATTER RIGHT NOW. I think the love triangle is actually kind of important, because Katniss needs a future at the end of this series and she's so damaged that it's unlikely she can do much in the public sphere. Plus, having lost so much family, she needs a new one, and she needs to figure out who it will be with considering how conflicted she's been about romantic relationships all along. I don't see it as a lame filler sub-plot, but something that is necessary to the resolution of her trauma. Okay, I'll stop now and save it for the "real" review. :]

  2. I felt the same way when I read the series last year - why didn't anyone FORCE me to read it earlier? Reminded me of how I felt when I started reading Harry Potter after the first three books had been published, and had to look back on a few years that suddenly seemed empty for their lack of harry potter.

    It'll be interesting to see what you think of the series once you've had a chance to read the books. Hopefully it'll improve! I can see how some of the problems with the reader, and distinguishing Katniss's internal and external voices, would throw off your listening experience.