When my tenth grade English teacher told us The Hunger Games was her favorite book, my jaw literally dropped. This is the woman who read us Shakespeare and Poe, who dove headfirst into the symbolism of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Catcher in the Rye. As an English teacher, she clearly appreciates good story structure and characterization. She understands what makes great writing so great. So why, in the name of all things logical in the world, is The Hunger Games her favorite book?
I don’t dislike the series; in fact, the plot is innovative and riveting. The concept is unique, the message is striking. And frankly, the movie was very good as well. I simply don’t consider The Hunger Games series to be literature. The writing is, to me, juvenile and uninventive. Sure, there are a few memorable lines, but the same can be said for The Notebook, and that book was written so boringly I wanted to throw it across the room. I’m sorry, but at the end of Catching Fire, I think I actually punched the page that revealed the entire conspiracy in one lifeless paragraph. One does not simply state everything that the reader has been wondering about at the climax of the book in one horribly-written paragraph. “District 13 is real. We’re going there now. The whole games was a conspiracy this year. They captured Peeta because we saved you instead. So and so is a traitor against the capitol and blah blah blah. Reveal the entire freaking mystery of the plot in one lousy paragraph.” (Paraphrased.) I mean, I wanted to just go rake out my eyes after reading that. It was a crime against fiction.
Send me all the hate mail you want, but I didn’t like Katniss at all. If the books had been written in the third person, she would’ve appeared to be a strong, confident female, but as soon as you get a glimpse at her thoughts, she falls completely flat. I understand that she was meant to be relatable, but I found her more frustrating and dry than anything. While the freedom of the districts rested on her shoulders, all she could think was “Peeta or Gale?” when she clearly had no feelings for either of them. In fact, it hardly felt like she had feelings at all. I think Suzanne Collins spent way too much time trying to create a twilight-like rivalry to feed the fandom frenzy, and that whole aspect, being petty and overdone as it is, degraded the quality of the series and the quality of Katniss’s character. It likened her to Bella Swan, helpless and unsure, and while Katniss clearly didn’t need a man to get by, it seemed to imply that she had to have one anyway. Furthermore, at the end of Mockingjay, I didn’t believe Katniss when she said “real”. If she and Peeta were meant to truly fall in love and have a happy ending, there should’ve been an emotional buildup leading to that throughout the book. Instead, it was more of a logical, emotionless decision. Katniss’s thought process went something like, “Gale isn’t here anymore and he can’t give me the comfort that Peeta can so I guess I love Peeta by default.” What?
I understand that Suzanne Collins wasn’t writing the trilogy to be literature, she was writing it for teenagers. Yet somehow the series has taken the world by storm, with bookies raving left and right and soccer moms fangirling over Peeta on Pintrest. I’m going to be the first to say that while The Hunger Games had the potential to be a ground-breaking work of art, it isn’t. And it’s completely overrated.