When I feel like draining my brain, I'll get back to reviewing this, and Eldest, and Brisingr (since they are in my room and I might as well read themWhen I feel like draining my brain, I'll get back to reviewing this, and Eldest, and Brisingr (since they are in my room and I might as well read them).
But for now, it's still two stars. Because I DON'T WANNA CHANGE THIS YET.
**FAIR WARNING THIS IS DIVING INTO THE OTHER BOOKS AS WELL** *SPOILERS*
This may just become a series review...I don’t wanna get to that but it’s probab**FAIR WARNING THIS IS DIVING INTO THE OTHER BOOKS AS WELL** *SPOILERS*
This may just become a series review...I don’t wanna get to that but it’s probably happening.
While reading this first installment a second time through, I received a text from my older brother, who recently graduated from Penn State University.
His text merely said, “Bring home the Hunger Games please”. My brother doesn’t care much about reading unless the stories involves Marvel, DC, or Harry Potter, so I was surprised to say the least. I’m assuming through his girlfriend, who is awesome, and from seeing the amazing Hunger Games trailer, he has a need to read these books.
Side note: As an avid moviegoer, I am in love with that trailer and its music, I’m going to the midnight premiere no matter what because movies are fabulous and I won’t let my lukewarm views on Hunger Games destroy my movie experience. Also, Gary fucking Ross. I don’t doubt his directing for a second.
Of course I plan to oblige my brother and bring the whole trilogy down from school, and he’ll probably sit back and say, “That was nuts!” or something like that. I sit in conflict about that reaction though, because this book is really not that impressive. And I am dead serious about that. I don’t see the Changes-My-Life-Will-Have appeal about this book. It isn’t there. Ohhhh this is going to be a fucking hard review.
My original thoughts on this book still stand, and some new faults have come along the way. When I originally read this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but there were some areas that just didn’t make any sense to me, like why it had to last more than one book, and why the ending seemed so silly. Now, there’s more that I can talk about that seems to irk me.
We all know the debate with Hunger Games and Battle Royale, and I can’t compare the two because I have not read Battle Royale/watched the movie/read the manga (I know, I should do all three). I do know the basics though and I honestly can’t attack Collins on that matter. I think she had no idea that there was another book like hers and just drove into her imagination.
By all means, thanks for trying, Collins, but c’mon, research is important. You gotta know that no other book has your storyline. It obviously strays enough to stay original but you get my point.
The Hunger Games follows the story of Katniss Everdeen, tough gal and huntress who is the only real working member of her family. Her mom’s a dingus, and her sister is innocent and precious and isn’t developed to be anything more so. She volunteers to go to the Hunger Games in place of her cutesy sister, and violence, whether it’s necessary or not, ensues.
Let’s dive into some break down:
We all can’t avoid this: there is some great writing here. Outside the fashion descriptions that made me cringe - I don’t know why they do, but I just can’t stand them. Seriously, every time Katniss twirled her glitz gown or talked about the sparkles like flames, I imagined Joel McHale and his Rainbow Brite heroine display.
Twirl for me, Joel...
HOWEVER, I really like the choppiness of Katniss’s voice. I’m glad to see that she actually HAS a voice. Granted it’s too serious roughly 104% of the time, it’s there and it’s there to stay. It’s nice and clean and does a good job in the more violent areas in the book. However, in the slower areas, like that whole first third, it didn’t shine. It seemed way out of place and made the pacing very awkward. When the action stated, I felt bombarded with intense shit and tried to figure out where the hell everyone was going because I was so in the rut of “Fashion! Capitol! Food!”.
Also, knowing common terminology would be nice, Collins. You have a nest of tracker jackers down, a pack of wolf muttations, you SHOULD KNOW that a QUIVER holds arrows. Sheaths hold blades. And only blades. This is a minor thing though, so don’t worry too much about that.
Collins world-building skills also need a little help.
We get a bit of how Panem came to be: famine, rising sea level, blah blah blah, but if you’re diving into that, how about our world? How did we crumble? Asteroid? Nuclear war? What about Europe? Asia? “Oh no one knows derp.” COME ON. If you’re bothering to remake a government structure as whacked as Panem, and let’s face it, a President controlling arbitrary Districts across a country by means of child brawls is pretty out there, then we need to dive deeper than simply what happened to the thirteenth district 74 years prior to the story’s opening.
Besides the backstory that almost was, I still enjoyed the development of District 12. It was a good start and brought me into Panem even though the rest of the Districts and their descriptions never came to be except for a few. Writing’s still good, but that backstory and pacing is just jarring. That’s what I get from my second read through of The Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games. It’s only one game, and it’s not even a game. Why is this plural if it’s just one death match in one arena? Anyone got a good answer for that? Cause I sure as hell don’t. Sorry, I’m just thinking out loud.
Moving on to the characters, I noticed something really funny about this entire series, and it unveils a HUGE fault in Collins’ writing.
Counting out Katniss, and Peeta a little bit, no one changes in this series. No one. There are no massive obstacles for people like Gale, Finnick, Prim, and Haymitch. They don’t have character arcs, they’re just lines. Looking at Gale and how amazing he is, I realize that he’s...still hating on the Capitol all the way through Mockingjay, to the very end.
Now Gale is one of my favorite characters because he has reasonable thoughts. I understand his hatred, but it’d be a good arc if say, he blew up that Nut in Mockingjay, realize just how many people he killed, felt TERRIBLE afterward, then decided that it wasn’t worth going to battle to stop Snow or whatever. That’d make for a better development of character. Also, he only exists for about 40 pages in this book...why the fuck is he even in this again?
Same goes for Prim. Prim is still sweet and innocent and not a fighter all the way through the series. She still doesn’t develop enough for me to care about her in Mockingjay, but I was happy to see that she at least went into medical training. It was a start that...gave her an excuse to be on the front lines and die there. Haymitch shows promise of change and then, nope, it doesn’t get to happen. He stays a drunk forever. I can’t even...balls.
Katniss has her change, but it isn’t even a good change. This is referring to a difference that WORKS for the character. She’s tough and hard and handles herself, but then, when she loses Prim, she doesn’t want to live anymore, she’s helpless. This is Katniss’ shining moment! This is to prove how strong of a character she can be!
And it flops. Hard. Katniss never gets out of that rut. It's one thing if you serves justice and then are forever changed, but Katniss just goes Bella Swan and stays in her Victory house or whatever for three months. THREE MONTHS.
My anger towards this has no limit. Also, President Snow is the main antag, right? He’s mentioned once on page 366 of this book. “Oh but Cato is the antagonist for this book!” Cool story, bro, but we need that series roadblock. WHERE IS THE SERIES ROADBLOCK. “The Capitol derp!” True, but I wish it was more that just a government. I want the person running it to be more involved. This is why I think the movie Snow is gonna be better than book Snow.
Characters I did enjoy: Cinna, Foxface, and Rue. Cinna was the diamond in the rough. He was an awesome sir. I want to catch me a Cinna. Rue, though existing for a short while, develops like a wildfire, as does Foxface when she’s mentioned. Ohhh I want to be Foxface. Even though her death was as anti-climactic and lame as Thresh’s. It was just an excuse to get to Cato as the ‘final’ boss or whatever.
Now we all have the “war is baaaad!” message going on, but looking back in the first Hunger Games book, this message doesn’t exist. It’s not even THERE. In fact, there isn’t even the hint of change present in the book’s end! The climax didn’t help propel a problem into the next book. There’s no thought of, “You know, we should stop this whole thing.” It’s just, “Hey, we won the Hunger Games! Let’s go on home! YEAH HOME!”
I have to laugh at that too, because the other Districts of Panem start relying on these two teenagers like they could single-handedly stop everything and save the world. The Earth will stop rotating and the universe will stop expanding and watch KatPee in all its glory. The star-crossed lovers will define a country! ONCE A-FUCKING-GAIN, romance prevails in a book about survival. Can we not? Please? Ever since Harry Potter, everything has been about fucking romance over the actual plot. Actually, that’s false, Blood Red Road didn’t suffer that trauma. THANK FUCKING GOD.
WAIT. IT GETS BETTER. WE NEED A LOVE TRIANGLE.
Fuck everything to hell. WHY are they so important? The romance feels incredibly forced anyhow! Why do this to your readers?
Frankly, I’d enjoy myself it this book was about the hell that was the Capitol rule and not these blubbering Hunger Games and the dumb, unnecessary love triangle. Give me a state of mayhem and havoc and you got me more hooked. Seriously, that’d develop the world so much more and we’d get more Gale. Sorry, I just like Gale too much.
I’m trying to recall the structure in this book. We know the beginning climax is Katniss saying, “FUCK I VOLUNTEER.” But what about the middle climax? Is that...the whole game? I’d say Rue's death, even though she lasted for about 150 pages total (and yet she got more closure than Finnick, Gale, and Haymitch fucking COMBINED. HOW THE FUCK DO YOU DO THAT). Final climax? I guess it’d be the face-off with Cato, but that seemed anti-climactic to me. Like, we keep hearing about Cato and seeing his fury, but we never get the full extent of if because those fucking weird, and silly, wolf muttations.
But frankly, all the hell that was rampaging through the Games and the GODDAMN CLIFFHANGERS got me too aggravated to really care. Wanna know just how many of these chapters ended in cliffhangers?
13 out of 27.
I’m sorry, but I can’t handle that many. It doesn’t spook me, freak me out, or get me to say “HOLY SHIT” and read further. Having about...three would do that, but when almost HALF OF YOUR BOOK ends in cliffhangers, something is wrong. That’s your pacing being silly. You’re trying too hard. Stop. Really. STOP OVERKILLING THE ‘DUN DUN DUN’s.
Even though this book irked me, I still enjoyed myself. I still cheered on Katniss and her determination. She grew on me enough to like her strengths and flaws. The Hunger Games is most certainly better than the snot/shit/dumb stuff that’s coming out and rampaging over the bookshelves. Collins is at least trying. And I do give her props because writing a book is fucking hard. And writing a negative review to someone’s hard work is fucking hard, especially when I still enjoyed the book a decent amount of the time.
It does hurt me to tear into this book, but I can’t handle the fact that while the message may be nice, it’s a literary mess. Series character arcs don’t exist, series climax doesn’t exist, craptastic world-building, awkward pacing, closure fails all around, you get my point.
I’d say you all should read Blood Red Road. Saba is better than Katniss by far, and the book itself is thoroughly entertaining in its style. Also the pacing is like...picture perfect.
Enough praising some other book. If you haven’t read Hunger Games, you might as well. The movie’s comin’ out in March so hurray! Time to start Catching Fire? HA, maybe when my brother’s done with the series. Either way, I never want to touch Mockingjay again.
Profanity has a possible breeding ground in this review.
I just reread the first book, and it brings out one of the*SPOILERS AHEAD*
UPDATED ON 11-22-11
Profanity has a possible breeding ground in this review.
I just reread the first book, and it brings out one of the largest flaws that could possibly exist in writing a series. We shall get to that later.
But seriously, what happened to this trilogy? No really, where did that ending come from? From Part 3 on, I sat gawking at this book. This was the most rushed piece of shit I ever laid my eyes on. While the last two books were still fairly structured and had something going for them, this started out as such and then just...blew up. It literally exploded into chaos and unnecessary mayhem. IT WAS POOR AND TERRIBLE. Come at me, fans. I beg you. I will show you how hard your precious Collins failed you. TRY ME.
This thing, known as Mockingjay by some of you, is the example of what happens when your planning goes to the shitter. It shows what happens when you run out of ideas and decide that you didn’t have enough symbolism in your book so you throw it all in the last one, hoping that you and your fans can soak up each other’s awesomeness. You then throw in stupid, pointless, outrageous violence because “Hey, Young Adult doesn’t have it that much! I’ll add in my violence, then make up for every other YA book that doesn’t have it! Am I doing it right?!”
This book managed to dry my patience on more than one occasion.
Mockingjay is reluctantly the final chapter of the Hunger Games. The story tries to follow Katniss when it was really all about the Hunger Games themselves in the first book and it doesn’t do that much later. At all. Fuck. Let’s just get to the breakdown.
The writing. Mockingjay started off stellar with its usual tragic, heart-wrenching style that I was very fond of. Choppy and necessary for a page turner, if it ever was that. But what happened to show and not tell? I was being told fucking everything in this book. Some things I needed knowing, but in the book’s most CRUCIAL moments, I needed to SEE what’s happening. Instead, I was told about it later.
Katniss has a habit of waking up in hospitals and telling everything in retrospect. It happens too often in this series. I’ve grown sick of hospitals and people named Katniss. I’m sick of retrospect moments. I’m SICK OF THIS BOOK and people praising it for no good reason.
Anywho, when that supposed climax came, Prim and her combustion or whatever, that’s when I lost it completely. After that point, I swear Collins just threw down her typewriter/computer/pencil/pen/quill and said, “Fuck I dunno what to do.” She got herself a ghost writer or something because the ending did not seem like Collins at all. It was poor, dull, and Twilight-worthy I AM FUCKING GOING THERE. Who waits in a house for an entire season and just...mopes? No one does that because they have lives. Katniss has a life, unless her life revolved around the underdeveloped innocent girl who was set up to DIE ALL ALONG.
“Excuse me, the Hunger Games is ABOUT KATNISS. That’s why Prim’s death was the series climax. She went to the Games for her.” You know, if Collins actually loved her characters, she would’ve developed Prim to the point when I’d want to cuddle her to death like Elmira to a puppy. But no, I don’t even have a shred of care for Prim, and that’s what makes that whole ”climax” fail almost as hard as Collins’ closures.
What strong heroines should not do that Katniss did:
-Let the death of a family member get to her so much that she loses all original character traits -Hide in a house for a whole season, talking to no one about said family death -Sulk -Make flashy dealings of death and go back to sulking -Experience the world of Bella Swan -Recognize her love for the supposed love interest when he starts hating her -Not have a character arc that works -Try to commit suicide for doing the right thing -Allow the biggest roadblock in her arc to destroy her completely without having her bounce back
I am goddamn furious about Katniss’ downhill spiral in this book. It would help if she had some moments of glory, but she had none. She was made into a puppet by the rebellion and lost all sense of strength she had throughout the series. I swear, it’s when she gets drunk in Catching Fire that this whole thing just explodes into something terrible.
Katniss is constantly manipulated. She is letting people boss her around? When did she start doing that? THE FUCK? She also decides to mope around about fucking Peeta Bread, then when she finally starts coming back as the real Katniss, Prim decides to become a martyr and everything just goes to hell. Never have I been so pissed at a book that still managed to have potential.
What was worse was that Katniss was stripped of any decency she had and everything was just so...matter-of-factly put together. There was no love for these characters.
GALE “I WAS DUPED” HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS
Gale was, and is still, one of my favorite characters in this series. While Peeta was all dandelion fluff, Gale was the rock that drove Katniss out of her manipulated state. All the flip flopping between rocks and dandelions becomes a real pain in the ass.
But Gale was fucking duped. He decides to make a bomb with Beetee because his character line (because he has no arc. It’s all KatnissKatnissKatniss) suggests that he only wants to watch the Capitol buuuuurn. When his bomb kills Prim, Katniss is all “Boohoohoo, Gale was that YOUR bomb?”, and he doesn't deny that it's his design with Beetee, but in all seriousness, this is the only thing that sets them apart.
Um, Katniss? Do you even KNOW if Gale knew about his bomb being used in that way? Reading earlier into the series, we know that Gale would do anything for Katniss, like SAVING HER FAMILY FROM THE DISTRICT 12 BOMBING KIND OF?! Something told me that this was going to be the crappy, unexplained reason as to why Katniss ends up with Peeta.
Worst of all, Gale is stripped of any closure. Gale gets no resolution other than, "Oh he's in District 2 doing TV." No conflict resolution? Not even a crap of a letter from Gale telling Katniss, "Sorry."? That isn't Gale's character just to run away and say whatever. Obnoxious, completely obnoxious. Gale was an important part of Katniss's life. Even SHE would go on and talk/think about him. There's nothing there. It's just, "Don't worry! Peeta's here! Let's all remember Prim and not Gale or Finnick. :)"
PEETA “TRACKER HIJACKER” MELLARKY-LARK
“Peeta is so loving and caring and wonderful!! *SWOON*”
....Peeta does nothing for me. He still does nothing for me. Fuck’s sake, I can’t even bother with him. He was nothing but Katniss’ little puppy. At least he actually got some balls in Mockingjay.
FINNICK “MY UNDERWEAR IS BETTER THAN YOURS” ODAIR
Gingers unite. Finnick and me are goddamn pals. He was a minor character who, after Catching Fire, upgraded to a major protag in my eyes. He gained importance into Mockingjay. What happened to him? HAW. He was brutally murdered.
WITH. NO. CLOSURE.
The fuck is it with Collins and not wanting to deal out closure? Gale AND Finnick were around longer than fucking Rue and they get NOTHING. Nothing at all. What the fuck is going on?
Finnick was the comic relief in Mockingjay. If he wasn’t around, there would be nothing but sadness and violence in this last installment. Nothing that gives us a nice break. Finnick was butchered so wrongfully. DON’T GIMME THAT “THAT’S WAR FOR YA” GARBAGE EITHER. That is a fucking joke.
PRESIDENT “I’M SUSPICIOUS YOU SEE YOU SEE?” COIN
Coin's intentions were made very clear from her first sentence, and I'm angered by the fact that everyone hates her cause she's gets on Katniss's case. Well of COURSE she'd get on her case, Katniss is the MOCKINGJAY. From Coin's standing, I see that the rebellion needs to stay together if they even HOPE to bring down the Capitol in a quick and easy fashion. War isn't easy, but it's easier when everyone cooperates.
Sure, Coin ended up being a dingus, but she wasn’t nearly as stupid as the Walking Symbolism Man, whom you all know as Snow White, the Rose King of Chicago...erm...President Snow. Out of NOWHERE, really, nowhere, Snow is suddenly snake-like and sneaky and a snake, and he’s all about the roses. Like...the fuck did that come from? We are attacked by symbolism in this book alone. And it makes NO FUCKING SENSE.
And I will not even bother touching Prim’s line of character. Why?
THE BIGGEST WRITING FLAW YOU CAN DO (BESIDES HAVING NO PLOT)
Because characters are not loved in this series. They aren’t. There are no character arcs whatsoever. Outside Katniss and Peeta, arcs are nonexistent. HOW CAN YOU DO THAT. No one changes in this story! NO ONE. NOOOOO ONE. Gale stills hates the Capitol forever, Haymitch remains a drunk even when he has PROMISE of changing. Prim is still innocent and weak, and goes to be a medic so she can die right on the front lines.
“Authors show their love for their characters if they do horrible things to them.” This makes sense to an extent. Like, fuck. Go ahead, do shit to your characters, but if you truly love them, you will make sure that there is a good end for them. I love bittersweet arc ends. Even so, that ending has to be the absolute only way their arc can end. Collins does not do this. She laughs at it actually. Laughs at it and walks away with a big grin on her face.
Peeta's hijacking was a dumb subplot, but hey, it’s better than "I liked you EVER since you dig through the trash at my bakery." Who...who starts crushing on someone when they are digging through their trash? Ever? (Obviously that's not the only reason why Peeta likes Katniss)
Also, that last third of the book, we have Katniss, Gale, Peeta, FInnick, and a few other nameless no-ones heading deep into the Capitol. No problems, can't wait for the sense of mayhem. Let me also get out that the constant...CONSTANT cliffhangers still exist and continue to dig into my nerves. Will Collins ever learn, seriously.
Where was the series climax? There is a climactic beginning to a battle with Katniss and Gale running into the City Circle and Snow protecting himself with children. And bombs are falling, then Prim comes in, and she gets killed by the parachutes. PRIM gets her closure, even though she wasn't very much of an impacting character to begin with. I'm somewhat angered that no action takes place here. There was fabulous build-up to something spectacular, and the setup is left hanging by, yet another, wake up in the hospital. Seriously, Collins? Stop that. It's silly.
But as I go on and on, with so few pages to go, I'm wondering what exactly is gonna jump out and bring shock to me as a series climax. We get to Katniss's chat with Snow. Snow’s symbolic words of might or whatever make me just kind of sit back and say, "Well, let's see. Katniss knows who did the bombing, I WONDER who she's going to kill..."
Coin gets shot instead of Snow. You can easily track that all the way through from Katniss's talk with Snow. It is PAINFULLY OBVIOUS. Definitely a twist, but not a shocking one. But Katniss tries to kill herself and is denied of that. Haymitch tells Katniss about what happened in court, and she was declared mentally unstable, and so, is allowed to leave without jail time or whatever.
Oh how nice. Katniss Everdeen becomes Katniss Everdeen again and she is declared mentally unstable for it. Shoot me now.
There is no message of war. This whole book is a literary mistake. I don’t even understand why this is supposed to be a thrilling end. Horrid. Just horrid.
I’ll conclude with this point. I am not upset that the ending was bittersweet. Hell, I loved that it was bittersweet. But it was for terrible reasons that are never explained. It was just...bittersweet and that’s that.
I'm sorry to anyone who enjoyed this ending/this book with all their hearts, but as an aspiring writer, this was just poorly POORLY concluded, poorly done, and I regret ever reading this series in the first place. I really really do....more
Bertie Shakespeare Smith grew up in a theater almost all her life and loves every bit of it and everyone loves her eOkay, this is more like 3.5 stars.
Bertie Shakespeare Smith grew up in a theater almost all her life and loves every bit of it and everyone loves her except Mr. Stage Manager and Theater Manager. She is threatened of being kicked out unless she is able to be an invaluable asset to the Théâtre Illuminata. But then the Book holding the theater together becomes threatened and Bertie says, "Looks like it's up to ME!"
There were a few things that I loved for their originality:
1. Bertie's beginning flashbacks set up in a script format. I thought it was original and clever to work with, especially for the story of a wannabe playwright. IT WAS CUTE, OKAY? 2. The Théâtre Illuminata itself. The way its magic works seems like it could be conducted by Hayao Miyazaki. It's beautiful to read, and I can imagine set pieces gliding in, lighting changing, Players coming in from nowhere, just everything. Excellence. 3. Characters. There were a number of characters that I just loved reading. I wasn't too into the fairies, but I enjoyed Ariel's mystery and the way Mantchev wrote him. Bertie was also a strong (well...stronger) female protag than others I've read recently *cough*EVERBLOOM*cough*.
So the world and backstory detail was very neat and well done, but that's really just it. The plot, though good in some aspects, moves far too slowly for me to really dive into the wonderful theater world that Mantchev built.
There was also this instance during the scramble to stop Ariel from beating up the magic Book that keeps the magic theater together, where a bone, given to Bertie by fun pirate Nate, is sprinkled with salt water. Bertie was warned about it, and it was only a matter of time before she'd do something wrong.
Then it does. Before the climax. And the climax seemed less climactic than Sedna's return.
It felt this moment was out of order. I'd rather read Bertie's success and THEN get stomped on with Nate and Sedna's fun little swipe-a-palooza. It would incline me to want to purchase the second book (I will anyway for the world outside the theater and PRETTY COVERS) so I can find out WHAT THE CRAP HAPPENED TO NATE.
I'm angered that there is a love triangle floating around as a subplot, because lord knows we've had enough of those... WHY CAN'T THERE BE JUST A GIRL/GUY WITH ANOTHER GIRL/GUY, THE END? WHY MUST THERE BE TORTURE INVOLVED.
I suggest Hayao Miyazaki picks this up. I just see his style working its magic on the magic in this book so well....more