Monday, March 7, 2011

The Hunger Games: A Romantic Perspective

I made a mistake on thursday night. I was tired, and I just wanted a few pages to read to fall asleep. The book that I was reading, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, had gotten to slow part. So, I looked at my book stack next to my bed, where I keep all my "you should read this eventually, it'll make you smarter" books, and picked out The Hunger Games. I had started it before, and it didn't really take, so I figured it would put me to sleep fast.

And it did. But, then, on friday night, I was trying to avoid doing homework, so I picked it up again. And, BAM, I'm a gonner. Cover-to-cover in less than 24 hours. Normally, I'd be happy about this. I love getting caught up in a book like that. Especially one that's so out of genre for me (ie. one that doesn't ooze romance off every page). But not this weekend. This weekend I had SO MUCH FREAKING HOMEWORK that I really, really couldn't afford to get caught reading. Because once I get hooked like that I can't do anything else until I finish. Not my giant math essay or my french presentation or my english study notes, or the prep for the presentation I give tomorrow morning at 9am (which I am still screwed for, by the way). So, instead of doing homework on saturday, like I should've, I read. And read and read and read. I'm currently 2/3 through Catching Fire (while still managing to get the giant math essay done!). 

Catching Fire.jpg

Now, I know some people measure how much they like a book based on how fast they read it. I mean, if you speed through a book, you must really love it, right? Well, not me. For a lot of books, I just get hooked. Sometimes they are great books (Forever Princess!). Sometimes they are beyond awful (Leaving/Returning to Paradise). Because, for me, all it takes is a good plot for me to get hooked. And a good plot does not a good book make. I read Twilight in one night because it was so fast paced. But it wasn't that good. Because plot is only one part of the equation (ahhh! Been doing math all day! Never want to see that word again!). 

Writing is another. My favourite book of all time, Crow Lake, is not fast paced. It has a rather boring setting, and almost a lack of plot. But I love it for its writing. And Suzanne Collins writing in The Hunger Games is good. Not blow-me-out-of-the-water good, but straightforward and enjoyable. The novels are really well planned out, and I give her a lot of credit for that. 

Of course, character is another criteria. The main character, Katniss, is amazingly developed. She is strong and oh so smart, and so caring, and freaking stubborn. She won't let anyone help her, so help her God. She's such a well defined character. I may not like everything she does, but I love for how she is always herself. A well developed, consistent character. 

The setting is another (usually less significant) aspect to consider. In a book like Princess Diaries, the setting isn't all that important. But here, it is paramount. Now, I don't read a lot of science fiction-y, futuristic city stuff, so I really can't say how it measures up. But I really love it. I love getting immersed in this foreign world, with all these different rules. At first the Hunger Games horrified me, of course, but as I came to understand the world, they fascinated me more than anything. 

So, all of the boxes seemed to be checked. Good plot? Check. Well developed character? Check. Good writing? Good setting? Check and check. But still, something felt off, but I couldn't put my finger on it. What else was there in a book like this? What could be wrong?

Then it hit me, like a ton of freaking bricks. What do I look for in any book, any tv show, in any movie, anything, ever? 


ROMANCE! That was it! There was a problem with the romance! I couldn't believe I had missed that! That's my thing!

In theory, The Hunger Games trilogy has all the makings of an excellent love triangle. A male best friend (my favourite!). A adorable guy who has been in love with her forever. What more could you ask for, right?

WRONG! See, the theory's good, but the execution sucks. In theory, I should love Gale and Peeta. I maybe should be pulling for one above the other, but it'd be a hard choice. Instead, I'm finding that the romance is the part of the book I care about the least. I know, shame on me! I call myself a (fictional) romance expert! And I'm practically skipping past the romance! Blasphemy! 

But I don't love Gale. Because I never get to see Gale. He's barely in the first book. And he's only sparingly in the second. Sure, Katniss talks about him a lot, and I know stuff about him, but I don't feel like I know him. I can't invest in him. And, therefore, I can't invest in that part of the triangle. Which is very odd for a girl like me, who, remind you, has read entire books rooting for the male best friend, even when she knew there was no way in hell it was going to happen. I love male best friends! And I'm trying REALLY hard to love Gale. But I just can't. I don't know him; I wish I did. 

Peeta has a very different problem for me. I like Peeta enough. I certainly know him. He's loving and sweet and loyal. He doesn't know all that much about nature, but he can bake and paint better than anyone. He's charismatic and charming and an all around good guy. And you know I love a good love her from a far romance. But, no, not buying into this one either. But the problem isn't Peeta. The problem is Katniss. 

Because Katniss, my sweet girl, doesn't know how to love people. Gale has always loved her, but she never knew how to deal with it. All through the games, she could kiss Peeta, and feel almost nothing. She's not good at the romance thing. And I feel bad for her, I do. But I also get frustrated with her. Because it could be so much better, if she'd just get past her own issues. But she doesn't, so we get all the motions, with none of the feelings. The first kiss, and all the kisses after that. The sweet nothings. The "I love you", and the engagement. We go through it all, but we never really get to experience it, because Katniss keeps herself at such a distance. 

Now, I'm fairly certain that she'll end up with one of them by the end of the third book. But I'm fairly certain I won't care. Because I've already gone through the motions. Now, a real first kiss won't matter. Now "I love you" holds less weight. I've had the moments, but I haven't gotten to enjoy them. So the romance has been okay. Sub par for such an awesome book. If the romance was as good as the rest of the book I would not have been able to do my math essay this weekend. I would have had to read all three in a day. 

I can see why people love these books. Especially if they're not so obsessed with romance like me. But for me, they're not great. They're good, with a lot of potential for improvement. Who knows, maybe the next book will wow me, melt by cold heart. 

But I doubt it. 


  1. It was nice to see this blog with lot of information. Thanks for sharing this one.
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  2. Nice. I'm a huge fan of The Hunger Games. I can say now I Totalllyyy get what your saying about Katniss! She frustrated me the whole book. Peeta's my favorite, and I wanted to seriously murder the last book Mockingjay. I hated it with all my heart! Romance wasn't big with Katniss, even though I'm a big fan of romance. I kind of liked the whole different world and am Super excited for the movie. Oh yeah, and I cried the last book. Man, I hated MockingJay...


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