In regard to plot and characterization, I'd probably have given "The Hunger Games" three stars. I found the plot to be contrived and predictable, the...moreIn regard to plot and characterization, I'd probably have given "The Hunger Games" three stars. I found the plot to be contrived and predictable, the characters to be two-dimensional, and the writing to be sophomoric.
But the book lost one additional star because, as I write this review from my post-Columbine, post-Sandy Hook world, I balk at the entire premise of the book. Aside from the fact that I find the entire idea of the Capitol requiring two children from each of twelve districts as tributes in a fight-to-the-death cage match to be absurd (Stephen King's idea in "The Running Man" had more credibility than this), I found the very notion of a novel, marketed to a tweener audience, that is rooted in the notion of children tracking down and murdering other children for sport to be entirely objectionable. I have read some reviews of this novel that speak of the author's interest in investigating the effects of war on children, but I saw nothing of the sort going on in the novel. To me, there seemed to be a gratuitous exploitation of violence and gore that I found to be inappropriate for the target audience. The best of fantasy novels do contain violence, but they do so in order to explore significant themes of “good” and “evil.” In contrast, the killing in “The Hunger Games” is without purpose apart from the entertainment of those viewing.
Arguably, Collins’ point might have been to display the blurred lines between good and evil that exist in the real world. Perhaps she was dealing with the difficult question of war and violence in a world where “good” and “evil” are not readily distinguishable. Unfortunately, she does not develop this theme. Occasionally, Katniss has a glimmer of conscience – particularly when the potential victim is cute or otherwise poses no immediate threat – but in the blink of an eye, it’s gone, and her arrow is piercing a boy’s skull. Rather than showing us any significant wrestling with the fact that children are plotting to murder other children for sport, Collins seems to insert these moments of moral hesitation as if obligated to do so, hurrying to get back to the thrill of the hunt.
Perhaps this, too, is Collins’ point – displaying the senselessness of violence, the frivolous exploitation of the underprivileged by a dominant group, the horrific way an entertainment-driven culture is desensitized to suffering. But, again, Collins develops none of these themes significantly. They are raised, to be sure, but at the end of the day, “The Hunger Games” as a novel comes across little better than the “Games” do in the story itself – both seem to exalt entertainment over the value of human life. I believe there was potential here for this book to make some sort of significant statement; it simply does not. And in a world that has already produced Dylan Klebold and Adam Lanza, I expect Collins to do better. (less)
Synopsis: I love Peeta. I love Gale. I'm going to kill Peeta. I love Peeta. I must kill Peeta. I'm going to kiss Peeta. I love Katniss. Wait -- I am K...moreSynopsis: I love Peeta. I love Gale. I'm going to kill Peeta. I love Peeta. I must kill Peeta. I'm going to kiss Peeta. I love Katniss. Wait -- I am Katniss. I think Gale is dreamy. Kissy kissy. I think I'm going to kill Peeta tomorrow. I hate Peeta. I hate Gale. I'm going to kiss Gale. I shot an arrow in the air. I hate Peeta and Gale. I love Peeta. I'm going to kill myself. I'm going to kill Gale. I'm going to kill Peeta. I'll give my life to save Peeta. I'm love to kill. I love Peeta. I'm going to kiss Peeta. I hate this monkey. I'm going to kill Peeta. I love Gale. I think I'll kiss Gale and Peeta. I love myself. I hate Peeta. I love Gale. I hate boys. I love myself. I think I'll kiss Peeta. I hate Peeta. I am kissing Gale. I hate Gale. I love Gale. I love Peeta. Where it lands I know not where. I love monkeys. I hate myself. I hate Gale. I love Peeta. Peeta plus Katniss sitting in a tree. I hate Peeta. I love Gale. Peeta's dreamy. I love arrows. Goodnight, Peeta, I'll most likely kill you in the morning. I kinda like Gale. I despise myself. I think I'm great. I hate the world. I love Gale. I'll have a turkey Peeta with mayo. I love Peeta. I hate everything about Gale. I love Peeta, so I'll kill him. The end.(less)
Gah!!! Suzanne Collins is now vying with Wm. Paul Young for the coveted spot of "Author of the Worst Book I've Ever Read -- Ever." (She already occupi...moreGah!!! Suzanne Collins is now vying with Wm. Paul Young for the coveted spot of "Author of the Worst Book I've Ever Read -- Ever." (She already occupies the top position in the "Worst Line of Prose Ever Written -- Ever" category with the classic statement from heroine Katniss in "Catching Fire" -- "I can't think about kissing when I have a rebellion to incite"). In my comments on "The Hunger Games," I described her writing as "sophomoric." In this obscene conclusion to the trilogy, I'd have to drop it a level -- at best, her writing here is "freshmanic."* It takes a lot for me to dish out a one-star rating -- and this book met my standards with flying colors.
*Please note that I retain full rights to this word, and will expect a $.10 royalty to be paid, in cash, for every time it is used.(less)
Meh. A couple interesting stories here, amidst several that were simply dull and a few that were downright silly (like the Rock-'em Sock-'em Robot sto...moreMeh. A couple interesting stories here, amidst several that were simply dull and a few that were downright silly (like the Rock-'em Sock-'em Robot story that opens the volume).(less)
This simple little book surprised me in that it became the only book I've read on the topic to go beyond telling young men to "look the other way" and...moreThis simple little book surprised me in that it became the only book I've read on the topic to go beyond telling young men to "look the other way" and get an accountability partner -- it actually grounded the discussion in a theology of sin and a theology of sex. I have enough students confess their struggles in this area over the years that I'm going to make this "required reading" for the conversation. (less)