Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: October 2013

Reading Young Adult books, especially those deemed “popular” is often a mixed bag.  Some of my very favorite books fall here, touching just the right chords to remind me of the emotional trials of my younger days.  Others are more lighthearted, able to slip past traps that might subdue a book for older audiences.  And then there are the other books.  The ones that are popular not because they are well written, but because they can tug on excitement or romance.  I suppose this is true of all genres, but with the recent boom in movies based on Young Adult (and fantasy in particular) books, it seems more prominent here.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins was certainly not the worst offender I’ve read.  Far from it.  The story was entertaining, and the world that she describes, though nothing novel in terms of dystopia, is certainly interesting.  On a high level, I enjoyed the book, it was only in the details that I found displeasure.

The writing, while mostly very good, did tend to veer into trying too hard.  It takes a skillful hand to balance between “not enough” and “too much” description, and Collins at times has too much.  For me, at least, it distracted from the story.  Another item I found issue with was with what could be termed technical details.  Katniss is impossibly good with her bow.  Wounds (and there were plenty) seem to waver between extreme and mere nuisances, depending on the needs of the story.  Similarly, the younger girls (Rue and Prim), who are both 12 years old, seem to be described as younger.  I couldn’t help picturing an 8 or 9 year old.  Some of the effects af the mysterious technology shown in “the Capitol”, I found to be questionable.  I’m  willing to give these to the suspension of disbelief, though. 

My biggest problem with the book, however, is that I simply didn’t like Katniss.  I found her to be suspicious and self-centered.  In a book that relies on the reader rooting for the heroine, I just couldn’t make myself do it.  I would have been happier for Peeta or Rue to have won. 

In the end, while I wouldn’t talk someone out of reading this, I also wouldn’t encourage it. 

Read at your own risk.