21 March 2012

Musings: On re-reading The Hunger Games

So, I was in bed last night and looking for something to read without having to go downstairs to get the books I'm supposed to be reading for work. I picked up my copy of The Hunger Games and started reading it again.  Why not? I fully intend to see the movie and this way it will be fresh in my mind when I see it.

The thing is...the writing just isn't very good.  I don't remember that from my first reading, years ago, determined to stay awake until it concluded.  Maybe because I was turning the pages so feverishly.  Suzanne Collins is a mighty fine story teller, and her plotting and pacing are impeccable.  But the writing? Not so much.  Not that that's a bad thing, but it did prompt me to adjust my 5-star rating on Goodreads downward by 1 star by the time I got to the end of it. That, and the point of view is first person, mostly-present-tense-with-occasional-reversion-to-past-tense.  It's not consistent, and there's no reason for it to be told in present tense, and there are multiple instances in the book where Collins breezily switches back & forth between tenses with a single paragraph.

But lordy, it's a helluva ride while it lasts, isn't it? Would that there were more leading ladies in fiction today like Katniss Everdeen: strong, complicated, compelling, motivated, and not always likable or nice.

I especially am drawn to the honesty of the scene near the end where Katniss is mulling over her feelings and actions towards Peeta over the course of the Games. She acknowledges the complications and ambivalences and accepts them, knowing that in an arena like the Hunger Games, there is no such thing as one driving truth, that all of her reasons are valid. In a world where a character's struggle to survive is matched by her struggle to maintain her humanity, Katniss manages both, just barely. (I trust that's not a spoiler since there are two remaining books in this trilogy and even the dimmest reader may presume that Katniss features in at least one of them.)

Brava, Katniss, and brava, Ms. Collins.

What about you? Have you read it?  Will you watch it?

6 comments:

  1. I must say - I was pretty thrown by the first person narration as well. I didn't remember it being that way. But I still thought the writing was well-done. Maybe not to Rowling standards, but certainly much, much better than the hack, Stephanie Meyers. Maybe I just need to go back and read it AGAIN, less feverishly, more for plot and tone and pacing? Or maybe I'm just looking for another excuse to read it again...

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  2. I've only read the books once and I really really enjoyed them, but as I was reading I was definitely thinking that the writing really wasn't the best thing ever. Which is why (if I'm going to compare things which isn't really fair but here I go anyway) I like Harry Potter quite a lot more because it has The Story AND the great writing. But still, The Hunger Games are awesome!

    Also, I love that you didn't want to go downstairs to get another book because that's totally how I start new books! I'm like 'hmmm, the book I'm reading is downstairs... I'll just read this one!' hehe

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  3. Sim@chapter1-take1March 22, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    It's so true you just get caught up and the actual quality of the writing goes out the window...pulp fiction at its best.
    Oh, I will definitely be there. I won't be there at midnight - I'm not completely mad but I can't wait to see it. I feel like the whole world is in on this one which is kind of fun.
    Hope you'll be participating in my bookstore picture thing-ey tomorrow!

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  4. Yes, I definitely got swept up in the story without a thought as to the quality of the writing. Pulp fiction at its best. I will definitely see the movie but not at midnight tonight...I'm not completely mad! It does feel like the whole world is in on this one which is kind of fun ... it reminds me of my son going to Harry Potter bookstore parties and midnight Potter showings when he was young.

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  5. I just bought the Hunger games trilogy, everyone seems to be talking about it. I hope its not all hype...
    First time on your blog, and i loved the concept of a travel blog and a book blog rolled into one, as I am a fan of both.
    Loved As the crow flies. Following you now!
    Please visit my book blog at http://riversihaveknown.wordpress.com/
    It's still a baby but it's growing. If you like the blog, please follow!

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  6. I am also often too lazy to go downstairs and get another book. I read these books. I found them quite interesting. The most disturbing thing about them to me is the violence, even though it's not senseless violence. I did hear that the movie doesn't show the most graphic and disturbing scenes of violence, which makes me feel better about my daughter seeing them.

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