Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Some thoughts about reviews of The Hunger Games Trilogy

WARNING: SPOILERS  If you have not read The Hunger Games Trilogy, do not read the following. One: it has spoilers.    Two: you will have no idea what I am talking about.
Whenever I post a review of a book, I like to look at other people's reviews because we all can see things so differently. Sometimes I wonder if I and the other reviewers even read the same book. This was especially true of The Hunger Games Trilogy, which I gave five stars to.
I was astounded at the number of people who hated the third book after loving the first book in the trilogy. Since the third book was a natural outgrowth of the the first, this made no sense to me. One person complained that Katniss had no character arc; she started out a whiny 17 yr old and ended up a whiny 17 yr old.  Excuse me, but whiny is the person who walked the same city block as everyone else in the group and now has to share that their feet hurt, they're hot, they're hungry etc. Complaining about legitimate hardship and trauma is not whining. Another person complains that the kick-ass Katniss they love went away in the third book. So did she change or not?  And excuse me, but Katniss broke. When you are subjected to continuous pressure, you are liable to break. I had the comparatively minor pressure of raising a violent, destructive child and I broke. No, I don't suffer PTSD. All I have to show for it are some nearly invisible scars and a knowledge that I don't do well under pressure. I would like to wish that knowledge away, but there it is. I have sympathy for the policeman and soldier who breaks performing their duties. If adult men break under such pressure, why should a kick-ass 17 yr old girl not break?
Some reviewers complained that the writing was bad. Sometimes I wish that I had not become a writer, because bad writing I never noticed before now repels me. I could read only a few pages of Stephenie Meyer before I gave up in disgust, and two paragraphs in the Left Behind series. But what was wrong with the writing in The Hunger Games? I thought about that a long time before I finally decided that perhaps they meant that the book is not written in a literary style. Totally irrelevant. I like literary writing and if a fantasy or thriller are written in a literary style, so much the better, but that style is totally unnecessary for this type of story. The writing became invisible as one raced to the next page to find out what would happen next. I noticed that those who complained about the writing still had trouble putting the book down as they felt compelled to keep reading.
I find myself impatient with books that have the heroes never getting sick, the heroes fighting on despite broken bones, the heroes taking a day or week to recover, the heroes never being traumatized by the trauma they are undergoing. That's partly why be the end of The Scarred King, my hero is suffering from PTSD.
But apparently, most readers don't want to hear it, thus the almost universal dislike of the third book. So, if I want to sell a lot of books, which I do as I want to buy a glass kiln and support some friends in Africa, maybe I need the make the hero more durable and kick-ass. But then, what self-delusions am I feeding into?
Oh, and what did you think of the part where Katniss votes yes with President Coin to restart the Hunger Games using the surviving Capitol kids? Since Katniss had spent the year trying to stop the Hunger Games, I was shocked and thought, "No, this is where you kill the evil president." (I am not a pacifist. Sometimes the only way you can make evil people STOP is by killing them.) So then I thought, "Okay, this is a tactic. Why did she vote that way?" and a few pages later we find out.
One of the reviewers complained that Gale just disappeared. Did they miss the part where Gale figures out that Katniss will always blame him in part for the horrendous death of her sister? Even an idiot should be able to see that romantic love cannot survive that.
Another complaint: there was no foreshadowing in the books. I don't know what to say to such a blatantly wrong statement. Another complained that they felt like they were being beat over the head by mentions of the mockingjay pin. Which reviewer do you think was right?
Well, on and on. What did you think of The Hunger Games trilogy, and why?

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