alexandral: (Powerful opponents - hard day)
[personal profile] alexandral
"Hunger Games" is a big disappointment of 2011, something I expected to like following almost universal praise this series receive in Lj land.. This disappointment goes quite deep covering many different levels and I feel compelled to write this down while I remember, even though I am probably re-capping some of the things I said previously:

- Borrowing: I am still giving Collins a side-eye for her statements that she "have never heard of Battle Royale". But I am going to give her the benefit of a doubt in the specific case of "Battle Royale" because this doesn’t really matter. Even if Collins has never heard of "Battle Royale", there is also "Running man", "The Long Walk", and many other books and authors from whom Collins "has borrowed" many scenes, characters and ideas. Even Narnia. We re-watched "The Lion, The witch and The wardrobe" during the Christmas holidays and I was stricken with how similar Katniss is to Susan (arrows included).

- The first book is the best in the series: standing alone, "Hunger Games" is a good book. But! At the same time this is a book that is very similar to "Battle Royale" which fact spoiled my enjoyment of it. The last two books are exponentially weaker than the first.

- Repetitive nature: I know the series are called "Hunger Games", but I honestly didn’t expect the author to repeat the same plot device (survival games and arena) four times in a row. By the third time I was getting tired of it, and by the fourth time I was "sick and tired" of it, especially considering that survival games wasn't even the author's own idea.

- World building: The world of Hunger Games is something I have the most problems with in the series. It feels as some kind of decorations that the author never gave too much thought to. I have so many unanswered questions about the world in Hunger Games I don’t even know where to start.

- One anecdote from "Mockingjay" that made me laugh quite a bit: The moment when Katniss was shooting arrows at planes during the bombing of the District 13 and managed to bring down the planes with her arrows. I immediately imagined that all the planes in the Hunger Games universe are made of paper.. or cheese.. or something else. It is clear that Collins is not someone technically-minded, but still.. shooting planes with arrows? How can this be possible?

- The character development of Katniss: is the worst character development I have encountered in the last year. I remembered what this character development reminds me of: Jandi in the Korean version of "Boys over Flowers". Katniss starts as an interesting gender reversal and ends as the usual "emotional female" trope. To clarify this so that no misunderstanding arises: I think Katniss’ feelings and emotions are valuable and people of both genders can suffer PSTD… But, unfortunately the overly emotional female that falls to pieces in adversity when her male counterparts seem to fare much better is a trope that is used very often and this happens to be a trope I don’t like personally. Thus, for me the character of Katniss is quite far from the "feminist ideal". I would most definitely not recommend this book to my daughter.

- Predictably: I WAS RIGHT!!!! I like to make those predictions, but the fact is that I guessed almost every single thing!!!!!!!!!!! This was so predictable!!!!!!!!!!

- Audiobook: I listened to this series in the audiobook form and it had the most annoying narrator voice I have encountered so far. Katniss (who is no bunch of laughs anyways) has become ten times whinier when narrated by Carolyn McCormick. This was seriously bad. Dear Carolyn McCormick, please don't narrate any more books ever.

- Gale: I am still confused as to what has happened with Gale at the end, how come everything has become his fault? I am not saying I dislike Gale, what I am saying is that Gale (and Peeta) are still unclear to me as characters, that after three books they also seem to be somewhat cartoonish and decoration-like..

Overall: Book 1: 8/10, book 2: 6/10, book 3: 4/10, on average: 6/10

PS: I always welcome a discussion, but please don’t comment with statements like "You read it all wrong". The way I read it is the way I read it, and although I respect opinions that differ from mine, and I am 100% sure that all opinions are valuable, I lived half of my life in a place where I was told what to think by other people, and unfortunately this made me quite sensitive to anyone’s attempts to tell me what to think. So – your opinion is yours, mine is mine and if you think that your opinion is somehow more valuable than mine we differ on a very fundamental level.

On the happier note: Lois McMaster Bujold! Vorkosigan Saga! HERE I COME! Cordelia and Miles and everyone else!!!!!!!!

Date: 2012-01-05 06:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Mockingjay was such a giant disappointment, ugh. I loved The Hunger Games, and even Catching Fire was an enjoyable read but Mockingjay was just terrible. I was expecting much more, probably due to all the great things I heard about it :/

Date: 2012-01-05 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think this was the same for me - I expected much more from this series, and it didn't deliver!

Date: 2012-01-05 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"The last two books are exponentially weaker than the first."

Yes! I couldn't have said it better or more succinct.

I was very disappointed by this series. All your criticisms are valid. I wanted more of Capital city, more about Gale and Peeta and the mentor guy whose name I've forgotten.

I'm now rereading Game of Thrones in anticipation for the new season starting in April. Can't wait!

Date: 2012-01-05 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, I wished we got to read more about Haymitch (the mentor guy), or Peeta or Gale. It was all : memememememe about Katniss and this became almost unbearable at the end. I know the book is written from the first person's POV, but I remember some other books like this where I didn't feel this constant "me me me me" stream.

Game of Thrones - I am going to start my re-read of Clash of Kings now I am over and done with Hunger Games!

Date: 2012-01-05 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I didn't like Mockingjay on my first readthrough, but I think it might be my favorite of the series now. The first book is very much an action-adventure story. The second one starts to bring in an more motional element, but the third one is all about Katniss and her character journey which is why I love it.

I love that the series sets you up to think that it's going to be about a rebellion, but then it's not at all. We don't get to see things like Katniss's trial at the end of the book because that's not the point. The point of the book is how Katniss has been changed by these events and how she is being used as a pawn by the Capitol and later the rebels.

Something important to note is that in each of the books, Katniss has a moment where she asserts her own agency. In THG, it's when she pulls out the berries and threatens to eat them along with Peeta, which forces the Capitol's hand to let Peeta and Katniss both live. In CF, it's where Katniss uses her arrow to shoot the forcefield. In MJ, it's when she kills Coin, demonstrating to the rebels that she is NOT their puppet. So I love that even though these books are mostly about how Katniss is a girl trying to navigate her way through the politics of both the Capitol and the rebels who are trying to use her for their own purposes, in the end Katniss stays true to herself and doesn't let other people control her.

The other thing I love about Katniss is that in the beginning Katniss is cold and cut off. She loves her sister, but because of the hard thing she's gone through in life, she can be a bit unfeeling. I think it's a really interesting parallel to notice how in the first book Katniss talks about how she never forgave her mother for shutting down after her father died, but then Katniss does the same thing when Peeta is in the hands of the Capitol. I think that as Katniss grows up and allows herself to care about people more, she lets herself be affected by the world around her.

I love that Katniss is a fully formed character with faults and weaknesses while at the same time being incredibly skilled with an arrow and strong and brave and willful. Katniss isn't a cardboard cut out. She's complicated and sometimes makes mistakes and sometimes doesn't always behave perfectly, but that's ok. Women are just people. We're not a better kind of person than men. We're just as flawed at times and just as strong at other times.

Also, I'm just pleased that a female character was allowed to be the lead character of a book series that was not marketed specifically towards girls. (see also: why I love Leslie Knope on Parks and Rec and Liz Lemon on 30 Rock. YAY FOR FABULOUS LADIES CARRYING SHOWS THAT ARE MARKETED TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND NOT JUST OTHER WOMEN!)

Date: 2012-01-05 09:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I feel as if you are talking about some series that are NOT Hunger Games. Admittedly, I have listened to the series, not read it, but my audio book was unabridged which means it wasn’t changed?

My only explanation as to why we see everything so differently is that we have different experiences and somehow we bring our own experiences into what we gather from the book? For example, one thing: I see from your comment that for you worldbuilding doesn’t mean much and that that for you the series were all about Katniss where I always need a good worldbuilding to even start taking characters seriously ..

But regardless everything else, I need to state for the record that for me, Katniss (at the end of the series) is one of the weakest characters in the book series I have ever “met” because:

1. She is still cold to others at the end of the series. She has never forgiven her mother or cared too much about her (she has never said "sorry, mom", or simply "I understand" to her mother) . She never really cared for Gale or Peeta neither. The scenes where Katniss was plain nasty to Peeta after his brainwashing were terrible to read.
3. Self-centered: if this is what you call "asserts her own agency" and “wilful”, I agree. :D Only for me self-centeredness is not something good.
4. Low on brain matter: it was obvious from the beginning that Coin "had a plan" and everyone around Katniss saw this, but not Katniss.
4. Skilled with the arrows? I agree. Only I don't see it as a particular strength in an individual, and selflessness or quick thinking appeal to me more.

Also, I'm just pleased that a female character was allowed to be the lead character of a book series that was not marketed specifically towards girls.

What do you mean? This series is clearly intended for young girls, hence all the fashion descriptions and the low interest in worldbuilding. Statistically speaking, I have never "met" a male that have heard of the series. I might be wrong and there certainly might be some males who have read the series, but if you visit HG fansites it becomes clear that the gender ratio of “Hunger Games” readers is heavily inclined towards girls.


I am saying YAY! Because there are shows like that, at the moment for me “Warehouse 13” is like that: a general all-gender, all-age show with fabulous female charcters. Only Hunger Games is not like this because : a) it is more geared up towards young girls; b)I think Katniss (at the end of the series) is one of the weakest female characters I have ever “met”.

But the main thing is:
For me everything else is more important than a single character. For me a book (especially three books) can’t be about one character only. I need to have other characters (almost non-existent in HG), interesting worldbuilding (atrociously bad in HG), etc. And there are also big issues with plagiarism in Hunger Games which issue is also important for me , especially because the plagiarism accusations concern the book from the Asian origin and for me the questions of race are very important.

So overall, although you seem to discuss the character of Katniss ONLY (I might be wrong, but I am just not seeing anything else in your comment), for me the series (any series) are never just one character, even the main one. Everything else has to be good too. So I see here we are different as well.
Edited Date: 2012-01-05 11:29 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-05 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Your post makes me so happy I didn't proceed beyond the first book. I just knew that there wasn't going to be anything there for me. I wish Battle Royale was available on Kindle. I'd love to read it. Maybe I can at least see the movie.

Date: 2012-01-05 09:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I would really recommend "Battle Royale" the film, it is an absolute classic. I promised myself I am going to give myself a treat and re-watch it after the tedious ending of the Hunger Games trilogy. :)

Date: 2012-01-05 10:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Book >>>>> movie. And the movie is great already (even if I'm not fond of the teen actor) which says everything.

Date: 2012-01-05 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lol YOU DID predict everything!! You have no idea how my face looked liked when I read your first topic on the subject ^^. I was "ok we have Nostradamus here" (now you need to put your Sherlock brain onto Games of Thrones asap :p).

Anyway, I knew everything you disliked from book 2 was going to worsen while reading book 3. And I can't really come with anything substantial with everything you just said. Basically you are very right on all this. I still enjoyed the books nonetheless. I was expecting a lot less while reading it and tbh, once I got past the *eyerollingthisissobattleroyale* I was fine. I think the biggest thing is.... I got attached to the characters. That's all that took. I loved Katniss despite her flaws (and let's face it, they deepen and deepen through the books). I adored Peeta. I was ready to believe in Gale. I smiled when Prim was there etc.

It's not deep literature, but I felt the adrenaline while reading it and I liked the road the author took. I loved the breakdown scenes. I don't think Prim's death was necessary though. And, my biggest grief (now I can say it to you ^^) is the memory loss of Peeta. I bloody hate that kind of storyline/plot. I suspect the k-dramas have spoiled that "temporary losing my memory sorry" thing forever to me. It's way too easy.
I only let it go because it was Peeta tbh. But I still cringe. You use that when you don't know what to do anymore (or that's how I see it).

Date: 2012-01-05 10:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lol, I don't really HATE the series, 6/10 is a pretty decent rating. :D

I think for me the problem was that I have seen quite few "OMPH! Katniss! The most feminist girl character ever written" posts , so I expected something more. And where I might believe that after reading Twilight , "Hunger Games" might seem like a slight step in feminist direction, this doesn't work for me. I AM NOT IMPRESSED. :D

I don't know if I express myself correctly: I don't dislike Katniss as a character. I feel for her. but I do dislike the things that this character signifies: another dose of tropes about young girls.

Oh, don't start me on Prim's death. This was so unnecessary but the worst thing? It was another character death/torture (the same was with Peeta's brainwashing) that was there for the single purpose to give Katniss reason to suffer . OH POOR SUFFERING KATNISS.
Oh wait, there was another purpose! Prim's death was there to get rid of Gale! And how badly executed that was!

Date: 2012-01-05 11:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lol Gale ending up somewhere on District 2 was so random but I have this perfect story where Joanna goes there sometimes and they hook up somehow. Gale and Joanna are a good match in my mind.

Katniss was delusionnal from the start about Peeta so the question about who she was going to end up with was never really worrying to me. I believe that if she really had the choice, she would have choose neither.

I really liked the epilogue. How everything is just said in little touches like a Turner painting. It seems all blurry but you can perfectly feel the emotions. Peeta being an anchor except those days where he probably freaks out and wants to kill his wife. The kids and the fear. The political changes tedious but there. And the heroin alive and feeling many things but also conscious that the better part of her was her little sister (because that's all very symbolic in the end and as you pointed out it was only a device for making the ultimate blow to Katniss) and that it died somewhere in the Capitol.

It felt sad, it felt real. It spoke to me at least.

Date: 2012-01-05 11:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You see, I would have loved it if Katniss chose neither Peeta or Gale at the end. Because the way I see it -she didn't LOVE neither of the two and THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN A REALLY FEMINIST ENDING. A girl doesn't need a man in her life "for survival purposes only"! I am a strong believer that you must marry for love only (another of my big problems with Hunger Games)

I thought at some point in the first book that she loved Peeta, but the way Katniss acted after he was brainwashed? NO, she didn't love Peeta. Marriage is not just for good times, it is also for bad times - what is going to happen when Peeta will get old or ill? I just can't see Katniss to be able to care for him.

This all said, the epilogue was quite good. If only the author hadn't written Mockingjay but went straight from "Hunger Gzmes" to the epilogue? I would have like this much better. :D
Edited Date: 2012-01-06 11:05 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-05 10:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Can't say I'm surprised that you didn't like Mockingjay. Such a letdown!

Date: 2012-01-05 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, it was one of the worst trilogy endings in the history.

More importantly - you are to blame for the fact that I have watched 38 episodes of Ojakgyo Brothers IN 48 hours. :D I have a mile-wide crush on Joo Won.

Date: 2012-01-06 09:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh well, can't say I'm sorry. :P
I have the same problem as you, totally crushing on Joo Won here.

But 38 episodes in 48 hours? That's impressive.

Date: 2012-01-06 11:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
hehehehehehe! I am on holidays yet, so I was just watching/watching/watching. Plus I always ff the annoying parental figures.

Date: 2012-01-06 02:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ouch, was the world building really that paper thin? Because wow, that's some bad writing skills to not only screw up the world but the characters and the plot.

I'm starting to really be glad that I never got to read the book but if I do find it in my library I'll take it out, just so I can really judge for myself, I did the same with Twilight and discovered to my horror that it was worse than everyone was saying, so who knows, I might spot even more of the crap than you did in the Hunger Games, we can compare notes. :D

Date: 2012-01-06 10:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For me it was. You see, I don't think the trilogy is as bad as Twilight. but then again, I didn't mind the first two books of Twilight too. I can definitely see why teenage girls who haven't read too much yet and have not many things to compare Twilight with love it.

The same goes for Hunger Games - I am definitely NOT a teenage girl, so I have many things to compare it with, sadly. May be if I read it before I have read other (that would have been 30 years ago as I started reading really serious books pretty early) things I would have liked it more?

And , of course, I also can't really relate to Katniss. I am a mother of teenage daughter and all I want to do with Katniss is take her to psychiatrist and help her. I can not relate.

But at the same time - I guess I am not even that hard to please. With Twilight, I found the last book to be particular bad, as in - -100/10 in ratings.
Edited Date: 2012-01-06 10:56 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-06 04:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Vorkosigan Saga for the win!!!!!!

Date: 2012-01-06 11:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yay! I have got all the audiobooks ready and lined up. I haven't got further than "Warriors apprentice" (to my shame) but I loved the books (ages ago). I am really in a mood for something written by a woman that is NOT geared up for girls/women alone. Did I tell you that I always thought Lois McMaster Bujold was a man? How silly of me!


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