I finished it.
Yes, I am a bit late for the parade, but I finished the Hunger Games last night. The book was well written, clever, innovative, and exciting. It had hints of several genres (fantasy, romance, thriller) which always helps up the desirability of a book. In the end, however, this book was nothing but a disappointment.
Hunger Games was a great example of a "what could have been" book that fell flat. After the jump I will share the reasons (spoilers after the jump!)
Suzanne Collins weaves a masterful story throughout this book. From the beginning she invites us into the mind of the young Katniss Everdeen in such a way that it leaves us all feeling like teenage girls with the world against us. Her imagery is beautiful, her action is intense, and the story leads right up to a climactic moment with a beautiful twist...
...and then it falls so far short of literary excellency that I wanted to cry.
Katniss and Peeta (the two main characters) have killed the last opponent and are standing together as Hunger Games champions when the intercom blares, announcing that there cannot be two winners--one will have to kill the other. Peeta is desperately in love with Katniss, and Katniss has clearly grown to love him in some way as well. Yet the author finds a way to keep both alive and returning home to set up the sequel as a teenage love triangle between one young girl and two young men (sound familiar?)
The ending took this book from classic literature to teenage drama in about five paragraphs. There were three legitimate ways this book could have been written to create a classic. Please allow me to share:
1. Peeta could have turned out to be evil. We all knew all along that he loved Katniss, even though Katniss seems too thick to figure it out. The ultimate twist at the end is that, when announced that they will have to fight each other, Katniss hesitates, and Peeta surprises everyone by tossing her around like a bag of flour. Katniss is left trying to survive while Peeta attacks, slowly bleeding out and dying right before he can win the day. Katniss then goes home to a new trouble--she can trust nobody. Gale, even Prim, could betray her if lovely Peeta could.
2. Peeta gets his wish and dies in a way that let's the Capital know they don't own him. In other words, he kills himself. As Katniss readies her bow, Peeta pulls out his knife, proclaims his love once more, then ends his own life. Katniss wins the games, but not before truly falling for the man who gave himself up for her. She is now determined to hurt the evil capital for what they did to them in the games. The second book is all about revenge.
3. Peeta ends up being a robot. Yeah, programmed to mess with Katniss. He pretends to bleed out, she things she has won until BAM! Knife to the temple and Peeta the robot wins the Hunger Games.
Ok, that last one probably wouldn't work. It would make for another great twist in a Michael Bay film though!
What were your thoughts on the Hunger Games? What would have made it better? Do you prefer the romantic ending?