Instead of visiting Pinterest for the tenth time today, I figured it’s time to write about The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, since I just finished it and since the movie trailer recently premiered online. Suzanne Collins remains a mystery to me. Her picture does not grace the covers of her books, and I’ve not looked it up online because, really, I’m afraid if I see her face I’ll like the books less. (This happened with the Twilight series.)
Collins’ post-apocalyptic America is fairly imaginative. Torn into districts of people who are basically slaves to the Capitol and whose children run the risk of being drawn into the Hunger Games each year, Panem is a place I don’t want to visit but am curious enough about. The first book in the series is compelling, setting up this world, this crazy idea that captures the reader’s interest right away because, let’s face it, we all like some gruesome (read: Stephen King’s Danse Macabre). So, we’re in. Collins knows the story-writing tricks, her obsession with food description is right in line with the culture’s foodie, gastro-pub obsession, our heroes have a fair amount of depth, her Capitol characters are a good amount of colorful. It’s a good read: for the most part.
The things that get me where it hurts are the love interest, which, now that I’m rethinking this, I might not even be able to criticize because, who is our target audience? Teens. And what do teens love? Love. But there’s that, and then there’s the heroine Katniss Everdeen’s cluelessness. I don’t know whether Collins assumes the reader will know what’s going to happen before Katniss does all the time, but we do. And that’s not good writing technique. If there is to be mystery, and there is because there is suspense, it must remain mystery. We must find out with the hero.
The second and third books start at a snail’s pace. The second because of a load of exposition that the reader could definitely do without. The third because we simply don’t care and we want to get to the action. But this happens in many a good book, so I’ll let that one slide as well. What I won’t forgive is the absolutely unnecessary epilogue. People have debated epilogues since the epilogue existed. I take comfort in knowing that I’m of the humble yet accurate opinion that epilogues are almost always the wrong choice.
So, go ahead and buy The Hunger Games on your Kindle, but don’t go out and buy the hardbacks. Expect some suspense coupled with some unfortunately obvious “twists,” a couple of characters you might like enough to follow through to the end, a love story that might remind you of your teen years, and a world that might soon be to come.