Friday, April 13, 2012

No Appetite for "The Hunger Games"

Okay, I just finished the last book of The Hunger Games, and I tried so hard to like the series since everyone was raving about them. The movie version is breaking box office sales.

It’s no secret that the storyline of the three books is based on a violent dystopia society with a the cast of characters who are brutal, shallow and psychopathic. I personally believe that throwing a bunch of kids, age 12-18, into an arena to fight each other until death is barbaric, inhuman and just morally wrong, unless there is a lesson to be learned. The use of gore, cruelty and torture for shock effect doesn’t impress me as a reader. I suggest parents of younger teens should read these books first.

I was disappointed in the heroine, Katniss Everdeen. Her personality lacked depth. She isn’t particularly good at anything but hunting with a bow and arrow. She doesn’t follow orders, she isn’t a visionary, she doesn’t make hard decisions or think for herself. She lets things happen. She’s often clueless, and she’s manipulated by her mentor, friends, rebel forces and others around her. Many times she’s overbearing and rude to her peers, but almost cowardly in her ability to interact with others. Katniss was forever running away when she was recovering from a traumatic situation—climbing into closets, behind pipes, under her bed covers or fallen plasterboard and other lonely places like the forest.

Ironically, I was also waiting for the author to instill some moral or ethical lesson, or give a few redeeming traits to the heroine that would have a positive effect on young adults reading the series. It didn’t happen. And this is where I think the series fail. Katniss never really felt sorry for the other tributes who were killed, besides Rue who she befriended. She continued to be tiresome, boring, sulky, and self-centered throughout the next two books. She was also continually eating something—even when others were dying around her. Even more weird is that she is the person chosen to be the symbol of the revolution!

Her interest in the love triangle and with either young men was lukewarm at best. The duel poisonous, berry-eating scene at the end of the first book is a typical Romeo and Juliet ending, and it tells us what? Suicide is the way to overthrow, manipulate or escape an oppressive government. Really?

I also thought the plot was contrived. Whenever there was a problem in the games, the rules were changed or gifts were parachuted in to help the characters get out of their pathetic situation. All the silly antics of wearing some of the various gowns, modeling six wedding gowns and use of extreme make-up/makeovers were thrown into the storylines because young adults, especially females, are enthralled with fashion, their physical looks, and the desire to be noticed.

I honestly tried to like The Hunger Games. . .I really did. I just couldn’t get hooked.