Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Genre
I absolutely love both films and books that have a post-apocalyptic setting.
In fact, even when I write, I find it a lot easier writing characters in to a 'post-apoc' setting than most others - there is just a world of versatility. We live in a disposable culture, and a culture that is blasted with scenes of destruction, pollution, disease and poverty 24 hours a day - it is no surprise that the post-apoc genre is becoming not only relevant to our lives, but can also give what seems to be prophetic insight in to our imminent doom.

Most post-apoc (not all!) novels, I have found, fall somewhere in 'The Empire of Geekdom', but occasionally a few novels rear their awesome heads and become instant classics... I am Legend, The Time Machine, The Stand, War of the Worlds to name but a few.

And then came The Hunger Games a 2008 novel that made the post-apoc genre relevant to teenagers, well, relevant to teenagers without extra high waisted trousers who spend their Friday nights playing Dungeons and Dragons and arguing about whether or not they like Ewoks ( I know... what a horrible stereotype!). Of course, the rest of the trilogy followed suite and arguments ensued as to which one was best.

The Audiobook
So, I purchased the audiobooks and got through them slowly. All three novels were narrated by Carolyn McCormick. Now, the problem with audiobooks - their major flaw, in my opinion, is that you rely very heavily upon the narrator's ability to emote the words upon the page. If they are unable to do that, or if they unable to give a voice to the character that either 1) suits the character 2) distinguishes that character from the rest, there is a pretty big risk that you could end up becoming indifferent to them.

Carolyn McCormick's narration was quite simply awful. At least to my taste. I found her uninspiring, I found the character voices to be amateurish, both her tone and speed of which she read was bland - which in turn made the book a little bit monotone to me.

The Story
The narrator though, does not let Suzanne Collins off of the hook. She could have had something wonderful, amazing, brilliant but it just seemed a little rushed - and repetitive. We meet the main character Katniss Everdeen (an awesome name) who seems strong, stubborn, hard-working and passionate. And although many people loved the main character, I didn't really. In fact, I found Collins' way of emoting Katniss kind of made her seem a little unbalanced and unbelievable; and as an author, it is a major sin if your audience does not believe your characters.

Anywho - there were some major flaws, and some major annoyances in the novels that I just could not get past [SPOILER ALERT]. Here is a list:

  • Why, oh why did Collins write this book as a first person narrative? I mean, really? It was ruined as soon as Katniss spoke for two reasons 1) Katniss is not likeable 2) the suspense was shot, I did not believe that Katniss was ever in any danger (as she was the narrator, and the only way that she could be in imminent danger is if she was telling the story from the grave)... therefore, I was unable to feel suspense or worry for her well being, I knew she would survive the Hunger Games just by the very fact that she is the one narrating it... and that there were two other novels afterwards.
  • The lack of likeable characters! Okay... there are three likeable characters in all three novels. 1) Gale, 2) Cinna, 3) Finnick . That's it! Even Haymitch (who was awesome played by Woody Harrelson) sucks in the novels. Even Prim... that boring little girl who should have just been thrown in to the Hunger Games to save us reading the other two, sucked. Quite simply, because Collins gave me no reason to root for Katniss, it meant that all characters introduced through Katniss became as boring as her narration. 
  • Why wasn't Snow killed? Yes, I understand the need to show that Katniss was protecting the future of all of Panem etc etc. But, she's an awesome shot throughout all three novels, even when injured, or fighting against guns, she is supposedly awesome with a bow and arrow... so why, why couldn't she kill both Snow and that President Coin if she'd wanted to. I understand that Coin was responsible for Prim's death, but Snow was responsible for putting her in to the games twice, killing off most of her friends, completely totalling district 12, oh, and of course - hijacking the 'love of her life' Peeta.
  • The supposed 'love-triangle'! This is where I found Collins had been shockingly lazy, this is why both romances just could not withstand the pressure of Katniss's narrative. Katniss is a manipulative, cheating young lady who just leads on whoever to get where she needs to be. In fact, both Peeta and Gale admit that in Mockingjay and yet Collins still wants us to be on Katniss' side? This is why, for me, I could not believe either romance. Katniss is just far too self-absorbed.
  • The Ending! For real, I could have sent Collins an abusive letter by the end of that atrocious last novel. The ending was such a let down I honestly felt that I had wasted my time. It was a cop-out. Katniss is abandoned in the end... by her best friend, her mother, and pretty much everybody else. Oh, except from Peeta and Haymitch. I think, in all honestly, it would have been a better ending if Katniss had eventually (once she got a little older) ended up with Haymitch.
So there you have it. My honest opinion, and thoughts on The Hunger Games. I think the reason I feel so strongly about it, is because Collins truly had something special, she was sat on a pot of gold, but due to what I read as laziness, and her inability to describe emotion, I felt disconnected and found myself hoping that a lot of the characters just died. Maybe I just didn't 'get it' as I'm not a young-adult, but there is some brilliant young-adult fiction out there that just does not succumb to bad plotting or laziness. Young-adults are people too, haha!

[P.S. I have also committed the CARDINAL SIN of being bookworm in that.... I preferred the movie over the book. I know, it is unforgivable... but more on that in another post methinks!]

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