labingi: (Default)
I've just finished the third and last book in the Hunger Games series and have a few disjointed thoughts.

I've heard many say the series went downhill after the first book. For myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the second, maybe more than the first, though that has, perhaps, less to do with quality than with freshness (I hadn't already seen a movie about it). The third, however, went steeply downhill. It was still an enjoyable page-turner, but the ironclad fiction craft for which I praised/mocked Collins in my first Hunger Games review got sloppy.

A small rant with spoilers for the whole series )

On the other hand, overall I really have to praise the series for bucking the more typical (read Twilight and almost every Hollywood movie) trends in teen girl protagonist lit. And this isn't a very complicated move. It's really just a direct inversion of the usual tropes. And it's funny how compelling it is just to see the fakeness of the fairy tale exposed. For example...

Spoilers mostly for the first book, a bit of the second )

One more thing I really like about HG: it consistently depicts people as people--not perfect heroes or evil villains or allegories of some quality. Some are better developed than others; none is especially deep, and some characterizations are sometimes ham-handed. But the consistency of this move highlights how rare it is. Just think about how rare it really is in narrative to have warring teenagers and none of them be depicted as just bad people; to have a love triangle where both possible love interests are genuinely good, compelling matches; to have an overly nice girl who's really just nice and not smarmy; a poor-little-rich-girl who's actually not spoiled but is good friend; a superficial socialite who actually has feelings and is doing her best, and so on.

No wonder I have trouble finding books I enjoy if HG (which is not a work of great character development) develops characters a quantum leap more humanly than my impression of the norm. Why can't this be the norm? I mean honestly...
labingi: (ivan)
I have a review/reflection on The Hunger Games up at The Geek Girl Project. Here's a teaser...

I have just become the billionth person to read The Hunger Games, and I have found it perfect. It is a book with no mistakes, a monument to every rule of popular fiction craft that writers workshops teach.

If you read English, it’s virtually certain you know what The Hunger Games is about, but to recap just in case: it’s about a young woman who is forced to fight to the death against other teens in a sport designed to entertain the elites and degrade the peasants. Suzanne Collins executes this narrative with a tiger-eye for popular science fiction best practice...

Read more, no heavy spoilers
labingi: (Default)
I saw The Hunger Games Saturday, having barely heard of the books and with no expectations except the usual vague dis-ease that accompanies any story about a heroic girl marketed to a teen audience--because, Buffy notwithstanding, they are so rarely done well. And so I was pleasantly surprised. I found myself thinking midway through, "Dang, this is a pretty good movie."

I've read with interest the critiques of [personal profile] umadoshi and others who are more deeply familiar with the story, and by and large, I agree: the film is too "white" (though this is a pervasive problem with Hollywood, not something special about this film); the coding of the clueless privileged as "queer" was problematic, as was their othering in general; hunger as a theme was certainly not much in evidence. Yes, there was room for improvement.

And Yet... with Light Spoilers )

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