Tuesday, 31 March 2015

(Old) review of The Hunger Games trilogy

This is a translation of the review I wrote on April 10th 2012 for Goodreads:

It is true that I've enjoyed this trilogy VERY MUCH (especially the 3rd part, which is curious given that most fans hate it to infinity and beyond), it is true that it's very addictive and that I've enjoyed reading it BUUUUUUUUUUUT I'm going to analyse a few details and I'll start by spitting out everything I didn't like:

Suzanne Collins
Suzanne Collins can't write. She basically has no idea.

Well, let us be a bit kinder with this poor woman: She can write; there you are a very successful trilogy and I doubt she wrote in a couple of days. But she set her own bar too high and she didn't manage to pass over it. Perhaps she allowed herself to set it higher because of the main theme of the trilogy, much higher than Mrs. Meyers’ bar when she wrote her Twilight saga. Actually, Mrs. Collins had to crawl under the bar more than once (and twice, and thrice). As a reader, you can notice her desperation some times for not knowing how to get out of that huge mess she got into by herself.
She made many mistakes of the type I'll call "the writer who reads something s/he likes and thinks: hehehe-that's-cool-I-wanna-do-that-too". My memory is not very good so I'll just mention some of the mistakes I found most shocking:


The rule change half way through the Hunger Games. What the flip is this??? At this point of the novel, I dare to say that most female readers would marry that macho man called Gale and that, in our minds, Peeta is portrayed as a sort of naive and soft boy with no chances whatsoever. You could smell how eager Mrs. Collins was to create a love triangle with the 3 main characters. Hohoho how cool would it be to suddenly change the story to put Katniss under more pressure! BAMMM!!! And Mrs. Collins changes the rules of the game and we find out Peeta is adorable... but only when he speaks or when he has a paintbrush at hand (and that does not only happen in “The Hunger Games”, but also in “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay”).

The 2nd rule change at the end of “Hunger Games”. You could see it coming since minute 00:00 after the new rules were introduced. To be honest, the fact that it was narrated in the present tense (something I liked very much, 10 points for that, Mrs. Collins) got me thinking during all the novel that Katniss would die in the games and that the narration of the rest of the trilogy would be taken by another character. A girl can dream.

Something I didn't like either was certain characters; characters who seem they're going to be or to do something important... but NO.

Madge: We're not friends but, hey! Yes we are! Isn't Madge lovely, bla, bla... Where is Madge? Where's the baaaaall? I would've married her to Gale in the first half of “Catching Fire”. THAT would have made the story exciting, Mrs. Collins. Resources, Mrs. Collins!!

The red-haired Avox: Who? Oh yeah!!! Half “Hunger Games” seeing her; we're going to be besties because she forgave me. Really? She told you so with that tongue she had cut, didn't she? Now I can't remember you, and in the end... dun dun duuuuun: Do you remember the Avox? Well, she died.

Darius: A sexy ginger who flirts with Katniss. He’s the reason why Gale jumps into the scene. He becomes an Avox, HER Avox, along with the other Avox. This is getting interesting. Do you remember Darius? Well, he got killed just like the other Avox.

Peeta’s parents: This is Mrs. Collins thinking what to do with Peeta’s parents: What do I do? What do I do? Uhm…. I know! They shouldn’t do anything! Dead. The end. Resources, Mrs. Collins!!

Delly: In Mockingjay she’s the only one from District 12 who can talk with Peeta during weeks. Peeta hates Katniss. Peeta is alone with Delly. Alone. HELLO?? Resources, Mrs. Collins!!

Effie Trinket

EFFIE: I don’t want to talk. You get so fond of her… she disappears at mid “Catching Fire” and you obviously think she’s been killed. But no! She wasn’t dead and appears again in the last chapter of Mockingjay… as if nothing ever happened! EXCUSE ME??????

The bow made by Beetee: A bow that only works when she touches it, that has voice recognition, that is flipping amazing, that I’m sure when in battle it has a thousand hidden gadgets… I’m sure you push a button and the A-Team appears. But… nothing. Resources, Mrs. Collins!!

On the other hand, one of the hohoho-how-cool-I-wanna-do-that-too things that many writers find very appealing is killing important characters to cause a highly tragic and emotional scene… like Cinna’s death: It’s one of the few deaths (outside the arena) that I find is very well depicted… even though we never really see him die and that makes us wait for his re-appearance at any moment at the beginning of “Mockingjay”, maybe next to Peeta (though that may be asking for too much). Besides, Cinna’s influence and presence is still there, until the very end of the trilogy. But there are two deaths that make me want to kill Mrs. Collins, both of them totally gratuitous, pointless AND after which no one sheds a single tear: Finnick and Prim.

The flipping annoying cat

Finnick’s death is extremely tragic for all the female fans because he’s a character you fall in love with and you find so sweet when Annie comes back and all that stuff and you think it’s horrible that not even Katniss or Annie show some emotions when he dies (wrong, Mrs. Collins). But Prim?? Let’s see, Mrs. Collins: Prim’s supposed to be the centre of the universe of the trilogy, everything happens because her and for her. Thus, she should be a bit more developed character. We know Prim is adorable, that everybody loves her, and so on and so forth. We know that… because we’re told so, but we NEVER get to see so. The times we get to see more of Prim is when she gets so flipping annoying because she can’t find her cat (which happens at least once in each book, and honestly, I couldn’t care less about that cat). Prim’s appearance at the end of “Mockingjay” is acceptable but, what happens when she dies? Is there a funeral or something? If so many people loved her, why the only thing we know is that Katniss goes crazy (even more), their mom never goes back to District 12, and Peeta (months later) proposes planting roses to honour Prim.

Resources, Mrs. Collins!!

What about Gale? Yeah, ok, he knows her sooooo well that he knows what she thinks just by looking at her, he anticipates her moves, he saves her more than once… but suddenly, when she’s decided to give up on Peeta (yes, yes, I know she had given up on Gale twice… it seems this girl is not very good at predicting), they kiss in the forest (you must admit it’s the best kiss of the trilogy) and… and… BAMMM!!!! The boy has a revelation and realizes that fighting for her is not worth it because she doesn’t love him. And that’s all, folks! No more Gale for you, girl. So you go crazy, your sister dies, you kill the wrong president and get locked in a room for two days, you want to kill yourself… So what? You don’t love me anymore! I better go to another district because I need a job. Personally, I don’t understand Gale.

But well, besides all this (and more details I can’t recall now), I keep grading this trilogy with the highest mark because I liked it VERY MUCH.

As I’ve already said, the fact that the 3 novels are narrated in the present tense is fantastic but I also believe my dear friend Mrs. Collins hasn’t used all her resources wisely (which by now is not very surprising given that we’ve noticed that resources are not exactly what Mrs. Collins is best at).

Another detail to highlight is the incredibly organized structure around number 3:

3 novels divided in 3 parts with 9 chapters each one (3x3). In my opinion, this is a way to remind us that although the story seems very real, it is not. It’s a built fiction (maybe built to reflect the reality we’re living in). It takes realism out, and adds premeditation.

Also, 3 are the games in which Katniss participates, yes, 3: the first ones, organised by the Capitol; the second ones, controlled by the rebels; and the third ones, the war between the Capitol and the rebels. In none of them can we say Katniss has any control over the situation but it’s curious how as her role becomes more and more important, her opinion regarding the games is taken less and less into account.

The games Coin proposes at the end with the children from the Capitol as tributes are different, but I will talk about them a bit more in the next paragraph.

I read a review a girl wrote about “Mockingjay” in which she complained about the action scenes. She was very deceived because in all of them, when Katniss is about to get on the scene, she gets knocked down, she misses everything, and we always end up knowing what happened through other people. That girl thought this was horrendous and it is true that once or twice is ok, but when you realise that is what ALWAYS happens, you can’t help agreeing with that deceived girl. In my opinion, although from the reader’s viewpoint this may seem irritating, it highlights what we already know: that Katniss has nothing under control, ever. The last thing she did because she decided so was volunteering as tribute to replace her sister. She was obliged to do all the rest: taking the role of Prim’s mom, and the father in her family; she admits that if she hadn’t had to go to the games, the logical development of her relationship with Gale would have been marrying him (not because she was in love with him and wanted to marry him but because that was the expected); also her relationship with Peeta is imposed, being the Mockingjay, her clothing, what she does at every moment is out of her control, it’s Haymitch or Effie or whoever else who decides for her; when she decides to kill herself, Peeta doesn’t let her; although she had decided not to have any children, Peeta convinces her to do the opposite… Everything, EVERYTHING is out of her control, why not the battles in “Mockingjay”? Even the games I was talking about before, the ones Coin wants to organise, those which it seems Katniss can control, or at least decide something… Obviously, history repeating, she can’t control anything at all. We’re lucky she decides to kill Coin and does so because after all, she’s the main character, isn’t she?

Another 10 points to Mrs. Collins for this: the little control Katniss has over her life.

To sum up, I think the result is quite good but the development needs to be improved: characters are not deep enough, many open stories, many irrelevant details while there are others much more important that are simply ignored. With all the money Mrs. Collins has earned from these books (and all the money she will get from the films), I suggest her to take a course on creative writing, because she’s writing novels for teenagers and that is not an excuse to not make things right.

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