Friday, April 6, 2012

The Hunger Games Trilogy

I know this is supposed to be a Classic Literature blog, but I have to write about the Hunger Games trilogy for a moment.  I just read them... No, let me rephrase: I just devoured them.  In general, I like to savor things.  If I love something, I want to make it last as long as possible.  I don't want to read all of the books from my favorite authors at once because I like to save some for later.  I don't want to watch a TV series straight through when I could instead drag it out.  I eat my dessert slower than all of my friends and drive them crazy.  But with the Hunger Games, I swallowed them whole in just a few days.

I think there are a number of reasons I had this reaction.  First of all, it is an engaging story, and I don't think anyone can deny that.  It's action-packed, and it's easy to fly through the pages to find out what will happen.  I genuinely did get caught up in the story and could feel myself rooting for Katniss.  However, I think I read them so quickly because I so rarely read YA literature.  In fact, I can't even remember the last time I read something this light and easy.  Not even my "fluff" literature can be read this quickly.  Half of the temptation for me was the knowledge that I could finish the whole thing in a day if I wanted to.  I never read books in a single day anymore!

Regarding its literary merit, I'm not quite as enthused.  Although I was greatly wrapped up in the story, I did notice some cracks and places that could have used some added depth.  For example, there were a few plot lines that felt shallow, and the Panem history could have certainly benefited from more detail.  However, I don't hold these things against Suzanne Collins because I don't think that's the purpose of the books.  The purpose is to engage young adults and get them excited about reading, and I think she successfully accomplished it.  If it doesn't rank well in literary scholarship, that's not a problem.  She created some characters we can truly root for and attach ourselves to.  Moreover, I think she created great role models for young adults, and I was thoroughly impressed with the way she presented the "love triangle" as merely a small part of the story and not at all the focus of it.  I think it's good for young readers to see that Katniss was way more focused on surviving and protecting those she loved than getting wrapped up in young romance.  But, of course, a young romance is practically necessary for YA literature, and I forgive the trilogy for its shallow moments.

I also like dystopian literature in general.  I wrote a short series I called "Apocalyptic Literature" you can find in my "Serial Posts" tab, and I focused pieces that contain a bit more depth.  But in the Hunger Games, I enjoyed that dimension of the story, and I am impressed with Collins' creativity in crafting it.  I don't think I could ever come up with some of the scenarios she invented.  Again, I want to only judge the trilogy for what it is, and I think it fully succeeded in its genre.  Will I add it to my list of Classics?  Well, no.  But did I enjoy reading it?  Absolutely.

Finally, I'm grateful to this fun YA trilogy because it reminded me how much I love to read.  I have to admit that I've been bogged down lately and unable to get excited about reading.  A lot of things have changed in my life in the last several months, and somehow I lost some of my reading energy.  But as I pictured this story in my head and eagerly followed Katniss' journey, I remembered that books are such a wonderful source of entertainment.  The feeling you get when you read a good book cannot be replaced by any other activity.  My mind just lights up in its imagination, and my fingers tear through the pages to eat up whatever is coming.  And when it's done with depth and sincerity in those really phenomenal Classic Literature novels, it makes me feel stronger and wiser at the end.  Yeah, I love that, and I'm ready to dive back in.

1 comment:

Krissi said...

I'm glad you finally read them (and so soon!) I love the fact that you said exactly what I felt after reading it. I haven't read a book in a day since highschool (not because they were any less exciting, but becuase they became deeper, more thought provoking and altogether more complex). It helped me remember that highschool reading fever I once lived for and have gone such a long time without reawakening. A delightfully quick and entertaining read...I'm glad you felt the same!