Buffy reading

Hunger Games talk

Saw the movie yesterday. Read the first book last night and the second book this morning. Am halfway through the third book tonight, but I stopped reading & am not sure I'll finish.

The movie was good. No qualifications, just good. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing. The screenplay was appropriately cruel to its characters. The brutal deaths of children were gutting, though Rue's death was especially devastating. Excellent science fiction, lovely biting dark satire of reality television and its endpoint. Competely worth seeing.

The novel wasn't quite as good. The worldbuilding had me raising my eyebrows. What are these districts? Populations? Locations? How does the economy of this place work? What does the ruling culture gain from provoking revolution in its occupied territories in such a clumsy way? The questions were obvious enough to trouble me as I read, but the core story of the kids in the arena was enough to keep me going. It was a decent reading experience.

The shaky world-building starts bugging me in the second book and it truly falls apart for me in the third. If it were a physical paper book I'd have thrown it against the wall by now in my ritual display of frustration. The writer doesn't know how revolutions work, how economies work, how air battles work, how ground-based anti-aircraft attacks work, how evil moustache-twirling presidents work, how Panem has to work, and a million other things. She's great with the details of murderous reality TV, but falls far short of the other tasks of writing science fiction.

The problem for me at this point is that the personal story of Katniss can no longer overcome my failure to suspend disbelief about the world in which it all happens. I'm way past the point of wanting to smack her and tell her to pick one of Peeta or Gale and STFU. (Note that I do not know how it ends.) Also, Katniss has become weak and passive in this third book. What I loved about the character in the first was her stoic action. Placed in an impossible situation, she rose to the occasion. She's not doing any rising right now, as I read her wailing over Peeta, and I have lost patience.

Ranty rant!
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I'm reading the third book right now (on chapter 8ish). I really hope I'm not disappointed because I really did like the first two.

I agree that there are problems with the books, but I found out that Suzanne Collins comes from a TV writing background so I think that explains a lot of them. She did co-write the screenplay for the movie (which I have seen and will see again) so I think her experience helped transform the book to the visual medium.

I also couldn't agree more about the whole Gale or Peeta thing. It's extraneous and horribly done.
She's got co-credit for the screenplay, I noticed, plus producer credit, so she's making some bank which she deserves. I suspect the medium shift and story tightening required will make for better movies than books for the 2nd & 3rd books. It definitely did for the first.
Not finish "Mockingjay"? Gah! Inconceivable!

I loved all three books, so I can't really comment on your objections. But I will say that Katniss does pull herself together before the end of the final book, although the damage remains apparent.

Also -- and this is a serious question -- why should she have to choose Gale or Peeta? They're the ones who are pursuing her, for whatever reason. And by the end of the third book, she's still not even twenty. IMO, wanting her to choose is their problem, not hers.
IMO, wanting her to choose is their problem, not hers.

Good point! Now that I ponder this, I realize that the way the book frames this for Katniss is at the root of some of my problems with the third book.

Finished it last night anyway, speed-reading so I could get past the annoying unbelievable combat sections. At least the writer did confront the consequences of the experience head-on. I liked the last segments.
The librarian at my school said that SC's other series petered out the same way - it started strong and then fell apart, so that seems to be a pattern.

The problems you had with the book were the same ones that I had, plus a dash of how depressing it all became. I was all "We get it, life sucks! Move on!" The key element to the first 2 was hope, and the 3rd book just chucked that all out the window.
While HG is already one of our store's best-selling series ever, Gregor the Overlander was sitting on our 75% off clearance pile right beside it. I decided to read it to see if it was worth rescuing and pimping, and I only managed about a chapter. Didn't pull me at all.


Edited at 2012-04-04 11:35 am (UTC)
I need to re-read the books.

There were parts that weren't as fine-tuned as other parts, but it didn't bother me. I don't have the strong SF background to be as picky about the how things work stuff, and iirc, Katniss's ignorance of the worldly workings distracted me from close analysis.

I like that once it shifts from hunger games to war, Katniss turns out to be a pawn. She could rise to the occasion when she was one of 24 kids in an arena, but now it's war, and she's totally out of her depth: she's only a teenager, and her entire understanding of politics before hating the Capitol. She's not Buffy: she's a random kid from a third world district. That's why I like that it takes time for her to get her shit together and grasp the power she has.

I really, really liked that Peeta and Gale remained on the backburner: it was probably my very favourite thing about the books. After years of Twilight, which was entirely about Bella clinging to a man to become a complete human being, Hunger Games has rolled right over the top of it, with Katniss, who does like these two guys, but she's way too busy doing stuff and worrying about taking care of her own life to make them a priority. She is the anti-Bella, and this is why I've been pushing this series at kids like a heroin dealer.

Though it did disappoint me in the end: my biggest complaint with the series is that Collins copped out before she'd finished the climax, and jumped to the epilogue. No, no, no. That climax should have played out to the end, and we should have seen Katniss make her choice. I really, really hope that's fixed for the movie

Oh, and yes, Jennifer Lawrence was fantastic, but I do wish she'd played the character a little angrier, which I think she was in the books. I really enjoyed all the seething resentment that powered her in the books.

One moment I loved in the movie was the moment she gave the three-finger District 12 salute at the TV cameras she knew were there. That was deliberate and angry and a specific message to the outside world.

And yes, more anger would be good.