Archive for the ‘2012 Books’ category

Hunger Games Trilogy

May 16, 2012

******SPOILER ALERT*******


Last month I read the entire Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  Overall, I thought the series was a pretty good science fiction read.  I think my favorite character was Haymitch, the alcoholic former Hunger Games champion.  Yes, he was kind of an ass at times, but he was also one of the funniest and funnest characters in the books.

As I was reading, though, I couldn’t help being reminded of that other very popular series of young adult fiction:  Twilight.  There are no werewolves or vampires or other supernatural creatures, but Katniss kind of reminded me of Bella.  While neither one is a mean girl, neither one is particularly that likable either.  They are both kind of cold, distant, and condescending towards others, in thought if not in deed.

Yet despite this, or because of it, all of the guys are in love with Katniss and Bella.  I think that Gale and Peeta from the Hunger Games were both better men than Jacob and Edward (or “Mr. Immature” and “Mr. Whiny Wishy-Washy” as I think of them).  Gale is doing everything that he can to feed his family and be the man of the house since his father’s death, while Peeta is just an all-around nice guy despite his verbally and physically abusive mother.

But I’m not sure that either one was a really good match for Katniss.  I mean Gale obviously really understood Katniss, but he did have that darkness about him.  They would have been a really depressing together.  Peeta fell in love with her “when he heard her sing” as a six-year-old…his feelings seemed more to be for some girl he imagined than who Katniss really was.  And you couldn’t help thinking that he was trying to make up for the fact that his father “lost the girl” (Katniss’s mother) and ended up with a shrew for a wife instead.  I also think that deep down Katniss knows that she is really just not that into either one of them, but she fills pressured to choose one of them when she would have been better off just putting both of them in the “friend zone” permanently rather than waiting for one of them to be killed or bow out gracefully.  (But then where would the romantic tension be in the plot?)

Thematically I thought the books were interesting in their portrayal of governmental tyranny in it’s various forms from the obvious Capitol to the more subtle leaders of District 13.  Then you have the class warfare between the slaves in the districts and the hedonists living in the Capitol.  But I don’t think the Hunger Games had the resonance of a book like Brave New World or 1984.  And I don’t think that it has the layers of symbolism, meaning, and foreshadowing of series such as Narnia or Harry Potter no matter how creative Collins was with character naming.

As for the ending of the trilogy….boy, was that depressing.  I suppose that Primrose had to die, since Katniss’s love for her is what sparked the entire storyline.  It was necessary to completely expose the full duplicitous of President Coin, so that Katniss could see that she was just replacing one tyrant with another.

I did like how Gale realized that Katniss would never choose him as long as it was possible that technology he had developed had been used to kill Prim.  But I never fully bought into Gale working in the technological warfare department of District 13 in the first place.  He was a hunter and a coal miner with absolutely no technological training at all, yet he was immediately working side by side with the most technologically brilliant mind in the story.

There were some other things that just didn’t ring true, either.  For one thing, Peeta had been completely brainwashed until he was a total nutcase.  There is no way that he could have been fixed in the few months between when Prim died and Katniss was sentenced to live back at District 12.  He would have probably needed extreme physiological and psychological help for years to come to deal with his own issues, but within a matter of months he’s the same old Peeta, in love with Katniss and waiting for her to choose him.

And then there is Katniss’s relationship with her mom.  The whole first book she is pissed at her mom for mentally checking out after the death of her father.  Katniss doesn’t trust her at all.  In the second book, she grudgingly tries to be respectful of her mother and rebuild trust in her mother to be her parent.  Then Prim dies.  Katniss has a mental breakdown and is then sentenced to live at District 12, even though she is still barely functional.  But her mother does not come to take care of her.  Her mother is off playing nurse in some other district, because Mrs. Everdeen just can’t face the memories of Prim in District 12.  Never mind that she has another daughter alive there who needs her.  Yet, Katniss just calls her mother on the phone and they have a weep over Primrose.  Katniss doesn’t seem that broken up that her mother has abandoned her completely for a second time.

My final assessment:  Hunger Games is an interesting and entertaining science fiction story.  But I don’t think that once all of the movie versions have their run that the books will hold up for years to come in the annals of classic young adult fiction.  Maybe I’m missing something, though.


2012 Reading Lists

February 7, 2012

Between pregnancy exhaustion, stomach flu, and a head cold, I just didn’t feel up to doing a lot of reading in January.  When I did read,  it was mainly re-reads of books off my shelf, because I also didn’t feel like dealing with the library anymore than absolutely necessary (books for schoolwork).

I really don’t know how much reading I’ll be doing in the future, either.  I am sure once I get to feeling better I’ll get the desire to dig into a new book, but I don’t know when that will be.  And I figure that part of my reading over the next six months will be re-reads of my favorite childbirth books to prepare for August. Lately, though, I just find myself wanting to vegetate on the couch or plow through the entire series of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix on my computer.

I started to put my reading list for January together, but my mind is so foggy these days that I don’t think that I could reconstruct what little I did read since the start of the new year.  Once I get my mojo back, I wouldn’t be surprised if I post about a book that I particularly liked and that I think might be of value to others.  But I’ve decided that, for this year at least, there won’t be any monthly reading lists.