Random thoughts on The Hunger Games

So I haven't seen the movie yet.  As per usual I am waiting until it has been out for two weeks so I can get really cheap tickets.  I did finish the books a few weeks ago, and between that and reading a lot of commentary I have found I have a lot of thoughts.  Spoilers for probably the whole series, skip to the video to avoid.

Based on the hype and press surrounding the series, going in I thought I had a good understanding of what I was going to be reading: a post-apocalyptic novel with a scrappy girl hero who, after many trials, would overthrow her oppressive government (maybe with the help of a band of scrappy teen freedom fighters) and revolutionize the world!  That's pretty much, more or less, the template for these novels.  I was really unprepared for what actually happened (and actively fought it while reading, "No!  Katniss is the plucky girl hero!  She will not be a puppet for any government" {spoiler alert: yeah, she totally will}).which was actually a story about how incredibly hard that peppy post-apocalyptic YA story-line actually is; how those who try to change the world will find themselves co-opted, sold out, and having to make deals with the devil.  Also, PTSD, and super creepy coerced romance.  The Hunger Games series is not about a plucky girl hero saving the world, but about an admirably surly would be girl hero relentlessly ground down by the oppressive system, about surviving that system, and maybe managing to scrap together a slightly better life for you and yours.  It possibly has the most depressing happy ending in Young Adult fiction.  Once I gave into the fact that this is what the series is about, I was pretty impressed with the whole thing.  Really it subverts so much we have come to expect from YA genre fiction (including having the least interesting or relevant love triangle in fiction.  Pretty much every fan of the series is Team who-gives-a-crap).

That having been said, the quality of the writing takes a nose-dive between each book.  The third book is just rushed and poorly written.  See, by this book Katniss is supposed to be slightly unhinged, having constant flashbacks and barely able to keep it together.  Unfortunately it's written in the first person, so she can't just say "yeah, I'm totes unhinged".  If you can see into a character's mental processes they should probably not be so coherent if the character is supposed to be mentally disturbed.

Anyway, ever though it is kind of massively ironic, I am looking forward to the movie.  I just have to find someone to come with me who will put up with the inevitable gross sobbing that is going to happen when Rue dies.  I am also really excited about the soundtrack.  I am a fan of alternative country and was hoping, since the book is set in Appalachian coal country, for some good music, only to have it show up from the most unlikely source.  Taylor Swift, who has a troubled past with regards to writing songs about literature, wrote and preforms (along with The Civil Wars, who are awesome usually) a song that is actually completely perfect, appropriate to the narrative, dark and down tempo, with wisps of traditional Appalachian folk music.  The video's really beautiful too.

Also, for fans of dark YA genre fiction, my favorite series in pretty much ever, the Chaos Walking trilogy, is on sale for 99 cents each today only at amazon.
The Knife of Never Letting Go
The Ask and the Answer
Monsters of Men


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