So. It has come to this. Me, reviewing one of my least favorite books of all time, by popular request. To be honest, I never intended to read the series, but my best friend and a significant number of the girls I knew were raving about it. Now, for the most part, they all have good taste in books(they haven’t grasped the glory that is Sherlock Holmes, but they’re pretty good with YA), so I decided to give it a try.
I hated it.
I ended up reading the first two and skimming the third purely for the purpose of this review(hence why said review will be general at best). I’m not going to include a summary, since most people have either read one of the books, seen the movie, or been bombarded by enough Pinterest, Facebook, and Tumblr posts to know the basic plot. Instead, I’ll be starting with the good points of the series and moving on to the things I wasn’t as fond of. Be forewarned, this review is not spoiler-free!
It is also a rant. However, that being said, I have nothing against the author. The series was well-written and there were more than a few good things about it. In my case, however, it just wasn’t my kind of story. Because of that and various other reasons, my opinion of the series is somewhat negative and somewhat controversial. So, feel free to comment, but flaming will be deleted immediately.
The main thing that really stood out to me was the writing style. Collins has a way with description and craft that pulls you deep into the story and refuses to spit you out until the last page is turned. That’s why I read as far as I did. It made everything very clear and easy to follow, which is a real asset in dystopian sci-fi.
For the most part, the characters were very well-crafted. The majority of them had solid, unobtrusive backstory, logical motivations, and were fairly easy to connect to in some way. Katniss, in particular, was wonderful. As far as YA fiction goes, she’s one of the best heroines I’ve ever seen, especially in the role of the protagonist. Also, the minor characters–which are often problematic–really shone as well. They were there when the story needed them and then faded out before they became a nuisance.
Also, the themes of the novels were fantastic. I may not have liked the storyline, but the underlying themes were very thought-provoking, intelligently written, and quite relevant. Sacrifice, the danger of complacency, perseverance, and far too many others to list were all woven into the background. And in a very cohesive way, I might add.
Well, the main thing that annoyed me was the simple fact that it’s depressing. I realize that it’s dystopian, and therefore meant to be a pretty horrible picture of our future, but this pushed it a little far for my tastes.
In the first book, all of the tributes except for Peeta and Katniss die. In the second book, more people die, including most of District 12. In the third book(which I have not read entirely), you have Finnick and Prim. It began to feel like a little much. Again, that may just be me, since this isn’t really my genre. When it comes to story-telling, I think C.S. Lewis says it best.
Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brace knights and heroic courage. Otherwise, you are making their destiny not brighter, but darker.
But that’s just my personal opinion on dystopian fiction. Rant over. Back to the review.
The second thing was the romance element of the series. I honestly didn’t care for Peeta. For one thing, I think I would have liked him better if he hadn’t turned out to have been in love with her from the beginning. While a good move for fleshing out both characters’ backstories, it felt a bit convenient that Katniss was paired with a boy who’d been in love with her forever. Also, despite the fact that they end up married by the end of the series, I didn’t really see any chemistry between them. The romance felt slightly forced and might have worked better if it had been left as the for-the-cameras version it began as.
Thirdly, my suspension of disbelief had some trouble kicking in when it came to the base logic of the story. You can do a lot of things to people who have been beaten down as the people of Panem were. Limit their food supply, pigeon-hole them into set occupations, take their basic human rights–but taking their children? Pretty much every mother I know would claw the eyes out of anyone who tried to harm her children. The fathers wouldn’t stop there. Most parents would sooner die than let anyone take their children, so I have trouble swallowing the fact that generations of people have allowed the Capitol to send their youngsters off to be killed.
So, that’s it. As always, this is merely my personal opinion and nothing more.
I’m going to go find something with a happy ending.