Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review: The Hunger Games trilogy

Book 1: The Hunger Games
I've been meaning to read The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins for forever, but only just got to them last month. They were a very satisfying and interesting read.

Satisfying because they were well-written and plot driven and I love a good, dense, and well-constructed plot.

Interesting because the books allowed things to be complicated. "Good" and "bad" were not as clear-cut as they first appear. Finding the right person for you and falling in love is not a straightforward proposition. And heroic deeds are not all done by heroes, or even by nice people.

Book 2: Catching Fire
Nor is the result of heroic behavior restful sleep and pleasant dreams. Those called upon to kill one another, whether for justice or for entertainment, are severely damaged by the experience. And you don't often see that in hero's quest books of this nature.

For that reason, I liked the third book, Mockingjay, best of the three (though I though all were terrific). I appreciated how Collins both resolved the action in a truly satisfying way while writing the experience in a way that seemed emotionally believable.

Book 3: Mockingjay
One of the thought-provoking things about it was how it explored the notion that, one way or another, violence would be done and people would be hurt. So given that you have no perfect option, what is the best option you have? What if you know that no matter what you choose, other people will get hurt? What will you do? It reminded me, of all things, of the movie Lincoln, in which the awful choice is to allow the bloody Civil War to continue so that the violent system of slavery can be abolished. Either way, people suffer and die. So what do you choose? Whose lives do you spare? No matter which way you go, your hands are going to have blood on them. So how do you play the game?

Be warned: these books are very violent. Brutal, even. There's no way you'll get me to see the movie versions. But I doubt I'd want to anyway. The books are told in first person, and part of the pleasure and complexity of these books is thinking along with our protagonist Katniss Everdeen about what is happening and how to deal with it. I'm not sure I'd simply want to see what happens without also knowing the mental struggle that's going on inside.

No comments: