13 December 2011 @ 03:45 pm
Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  
I am sailing fairly quickly through "Hunger Games" trilogy, mostly because I promised myself to listen to THE WHOLE OF "Vorkosigan Saga" next and all the books are ready and I can't wait!

I feel very apologetic because I know so many of you on my friends list love the trilogy, but "Catching Fire" (the second book of the trilogy) left me not very impressed. I AM SORRY. But I must tell you the truth. :D



The first book of "Hunger Games" trilogy ("Hunger Games") had a really good idea, even though this was something that Susanne Collins can't be given the full credit for (in my opinion) because even if you take "Battle Royale" out of the equation there is also "Running Man" and "1984". This idea worked really well in the first book, but the second book (Catching Fire) feels like rehashing of the same story. Inventing the way to send Katniss and Peeta back into the Arena felt contrived and unexciting.

Plus there were a couple of points I found particular problematic:

1. Worldbuilding.
I waited for some of the more cumbersome aspects of the Hunger Games Universe to be explained in the second book but there was no explanation:

- Why do we have so many Greek/Roman names and terms? Where have they come from? This feels like pseudo-Chinese used in Firefly without any explanation as to how it has become so popular. How Greek/Latin language has become so commonly used in USA? I feel I need an explanation.

- Why in the world that seems to be highly technologically developed people are still using coal? Why are they using manual labour? Also, when technology is developed well enough the production of material goods becomes very cheap which leads to the overall increase in the quality of life. This is the law of technological development. Why not in Panem?

2. Love triangle

I have heard that "Hunger Games" is anti-Twilight. I agree to a certain degree because Katniss, in some ways, is anti-Bella (apart from the "boy magnet" quality they share).

But I must point out that the love triangle part of "catching Fire" is taken out of Twilight. Some of descriptions of Gale's hot skin being warm and sunny made me think directly back to Jacob, the hot blooded werewolf.

I think I have made my mind up about love triangles. I do not like them. All that "blah blah blah, it feels so good to be kissing Gale" and "blah blah blah, I like Peeta sleeping with me and holding me too" is just so.. not my thing at all. I want Katniss to make her mind up as soon as possible. I am getting close to becoming annoyed; this is so not my thing.

For the record, my money is still on Peeta to "get the girl" at the end.

3. I am getting a little bit tired with too many descriptions of various frocks and jewels Katniss "is made to wear against her will".

This is not a fashion magazine! Continuous lavish and loving descriptions of dresses and outfits make the author look hypocritical because she tries to criticise consumerism, in the same book. I hope to see less of descriptions of various outfits and more of character and worldbuilding development in the book 3, "Mockingjay".

Overall, after two books I rate this series 7/10, mostly because the first book was really good. I am giving the series some time and may be everything will be explained in the book 3 and the love triangle will be resolved soon.

But I definitely don't understand why so many people are so in love with this series (I would really appreciate any explanations). WHY??????????

For me, the series feel like a patchwork with the best bits taken from various sources (for example, Rue's death scene brings Ophelia painting to my mind, etc.).

PS: Somehow reading "Catching Fire" made me appreciate "Harry Potter" much more. I think Harry Potter is a much better series, especially in the worldbuilding sense. You might see me eating my hat and admitting that may be I have always been a bit unfair to "Harry Potter". :D
 
 
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
fauxkarenfauxkaren on December 13th, 2011 04:19 pm (UTC)
I loved the series. I picked up the trilogy from Waterstones last year when they were on sale as part of Waterstones 3 for the price of 2 deal. Why do I like it? Idk. I just think they were a LOT of fun to read. I couldn't put the books down. I read all three books over the course of two days, staying up until 4 in the morning, reading on the Tube, reading as soon as I got home. It's written in the first person present tense which I think really sucks the reader in. There are a lot of interesting themes and motifs in the book about being oneself, surveillance and performance. Plus, I've always been a fan of dystopias.

But the reason I think I really love the series is that, in the end, it's not really about a dystopia. That's just the setting (which is why I don't care that the world building isn't in depth. That's not the point.). The books are really about Katniss, her psychology, and her character journey and growth. This is also why I don't mind the love triangle. The love triangle isn't about which of the guys wins the prize (aka Katniss), but rather the triangle is a way through which Collins could explore what Katniss thinks she wants vs what the Capitol wants vs whether she's just rebelling against the Capitol vs what Katniss REALLY wants.

Rue's death scene brings Ophelia painting to my mind
I think this is kind of unfair though. Ophelia commited suicide and it was via drowning and she was all alone and is offstage. Rue was impaled with a spear and dies as Katniss sings her to sleep. The only common theme is the flowers. Nothing about the way her death is portrayed is similar to what Shakespeare wrote.

To answer some of your questions, the Latin names are only used by people in the Capitol. And imo, that's just symbolic of what the Capitol represents (aka an empire that relies on it's colonies, or in this case districts, to survive and exploits them). Plus, it also helps tie into the idea of "panem et circenses" which is pretty much the entire idea behind the Hunger Games and how the Capitol maintains its power. As far as technology goes, it seems like technology IS highly developed, but the advanced technology is purposefully kept from anyone who isn't part of the Capitol. So I suppose you can imagine that only the people living in the districts use the coal. And maybe this is all part of the Capitol's grand oppression scheme. But really I think it's because Collins wanted to evoke a certain area of the US where coal mining is the main industry.
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 13th, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC)
Katniss
I think your points re: the character of Katniss and the 2easy on the read" quality of the books are good ones, and can explain the popularity quite a bit, especially for someone for whom the nitty-gritty of the world building doesn't really matter much.

BTW, I LOVE KATNISS, but some little cracks developed in my love for her because her "Dog with Two Bones" love triangle story is REALLY NOT MY THING. I mean., personally I am not at all fond of people who "don't know what she/he want" and view this as a big weakness of character.


Worlbuilding/technology

For me, the world building matters a great deal, especially in science fiction. For example, the fact that no developed technology is going to use coal is important to me. We don't use coal. I think you are right in saying that Collins used coal mining because this is something she knows, but why should I care what subject is more convenient for the author to write about? I care for world building and the use of coal doesn't fit the picture of the well-developed technologically world at all. :P

As far as technology goes, it seems like technology IS highly developed, but the advanced technology is purposefully kept from anyone who isn't part of the Capitol. So I suppose you can imagine that only the people living in the districts use the coal.

No, I can't imagine this. In the well-developed technologically world, even if the "fruits" of technology were withdrawn from the population of the districts (which is possible), the fact that more advanced machines should have been used to produce everything still remains. I mean - I can imagine the population of districts being kept in a slave-like state, but why are they still using manual labour doesn't make sense (because they could have produced more using machines).
To explain this on example: take Apple plants in China. People there are made to work 80-hour week (with overnights), their pay is a low, and they basically have no privileges whatsoever. But they don't make iPods using manual labour (or coal)!

And maybe this is all part of the Capitol's grand oppression scheme.

Well, it can be! But I need an explanation in this case, why /how, this is what the worldbulding is there for .

There are a lot of interesting themes and motifs in the book about being oneself, surveillance and performance. Plus, I've always been a fan of dystopias.

A lot of those themes are taken from something else, 1984, for example?

I think this is kind of unfair though. Ophelia commited suicide and it was via drowning and she was all alone and is offstage. Rue was impaled with a spear and dies as Katniss sings her to sleep. The only common theme is the flowers. Nothing about the way her death is portrayed is similar to what Shakespeare wrote.

For me the comparison was so obvious, I can't even. :D Ophelia's death has always been a symbolic "death of innocent bystander" which is very similar to Rue's death, in it's symbolism.

Greek/Roman references

Plus, it also helps tie into the idea of "panem et circenses"

Oh, I understand that Collins is trying to use Roman and Greek ideas and myths (Minotaur as well) , but I don't need the overuse of Greek/Roman words to "get it". Because with this overuse I immediately start thinking "why? How?". I mean - why would USA start using Roman names all over the place?

PS: Although I wrote a lot, I am mainly just trying to explain my position. But I understand your position too. :D We are just assessing this from two different perspectives - I am familiar/interested in technology, but I appreciate that not everyone is. So far, from what I gather from "Hunger Games", I would imagine Susanne Collins doesn't really know or care much for technology at all.


Edited at 2011-12-13 04:56 pm (UTC)
this dangerous but irresistible pastimeembitca on December 14th, 2011 12:19 am (UTC)
Erp, sorry to get off topic, but this bugs me too much LOL

China generates a significant amount of its energy from Coal (over 68%), so in fact it does use coal to make iPods.

All those electric vehicles that carmakers are making and we're getting tax credits in the US for to encourage use --- they mostly run on coal since that is how nearly 50% of electricity in the US is generated.

Coal = Electricity. You plug something into a wall, chances are the electricity provided was generated via coal.
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 14th, 2011 10:23 am (UTC)
Oh, that is interesting! this is where the coal might be coming from! I might be thinking from the POV of UK where the coal mining died off after 1980s and the coal might be still used in the US.

But it still doesn't explain the manual labour, nad the inconsistencies in technology/vs level of life..
pwwwiiiggiiiexxpwwwiiiggiiiexx on December 20th, 2011 11:47 am (UTC)
Because it's /Panem/ that's why. You're talking about a country that rules via suppression, poverty, and cold blooded child slaughter. Higher standards of living for the Districts mean that they have more time (so to speak since they are not preoccupied with basic survival) to think about the brutality of the Games and how they shouldn't exist at all in the first place. It leaves too much freedom and time for the people to question the Capitol's power, or more accurately, Snow's.

Actually, if you think about it, the Districts aren't mentioned to have much high-tech equipment and all that, except for what they need to produce their Districts produce. They don't have much available to them really, on a personal usage level. The Capitol is the central place where you see all the classy technology. And isn't it true that the Capitol has a much higher quality of life compared to the Districts? All the glitz, glamour and glut.

As to coal, actually I was somewhat surprised that there was no mention of nuclear power being used...
singing_treesinging_tree on December 13th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC)
I argee with you on Catching Fire being weaker than the first book. Also, I never liked the romantic part of these books.

I'm really looking forward to your thoughts on Mockingjay, which I thought was pretty boring despite that so many things were going on.
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 13th, 2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
The romantic side of things feels like an afterthought and I personally would have liked the book much more without ti. All that "we must pretend to be lovers/married and then we fall in love" story is .. so cliche. But also - THE LOVE TRIANGLE. I thought that I will never see the "proper" love triangle (where someone actually loves two people at once) again, to be honest (after Twilight). And here it comes! At least Twilight had an explanation for it (no matter how creepy it was).

OK, no ranting. :D

"Catching Fire" didn't seem to be as interesting as "Hunger Games" neither. This series might be the case where I would have preferred the author just to finish it all in ONE BOOK.
the color is rainbowfivil on December 13th, 2011 06:07 pm (UTC)
I kinda agree with you about a big bunch of these.

I think my own fascination/liking of the series was increased by the fact that they were the tall drink after a long drought - I don't read fiction much, prefer non-fiction (especially as politics, sociology, all these things are my biggest current interest) so when I picked up the first book based on some recs and it was REALLY engaging, I was just thrilled. It felt good to read some fiction again. So that was a very personal reaction, and I loved the first book most out of all of them.

I also hate love triangles. :| I didn't mind it so much in here because my investment was more to do with the plot than who Katniss ends up with. But yeah, I hear what you're saying on that. I didn't mind it so much in here because it was clear survival was her #1 priority, the fact she even had to think about the boys was secondary pretty much all the time.

I think the descriptions show these are YA and meant to attract teenage/slightly older girls who want to imagine glorious clothes and the like. It's pretty escapist.

Also, when technology is developed well enough the production of material goods becomes very cheap which leads to the overall increase in the quality of life.
To me the idea is that Panem is like a highly polarised version of our world, in some ways. We've got richer countries and regions using the products that some other places make. Of course, we haven't got strictly guarded special regions for every product, be it fish or grains or minerals. But we've still got them, and there's still use of manual labour in factories (a lot of it grossly exploitative, I'm thinking sweatshops etc).

I can see how Collins' version of this idea is simplified but also confused by having just one region who use most of these products actively (Capitol) - and that's also the place that's highly, highly technologically advanced, whilst exploiting the other districts.

I liked the world-building but since my reading process was characterised by speed, not slowly taking everything in and mulling it over, I didn't really start thinking deeper about the inconsistencies. I think honestly that's why I liked it. It was a great reading experience for me, and I'm excited to watch the films, but unsure whether I'll ever end up re-reading the books.

I've actually thought about gifting my copies of the books forward because I'm not that fanatic. I'll re-read HP books and a bunch of other faves, but this trilogy I probably won't be needing. Sadly one friend I borrowed the books to already bought her own copies! Ah well. And the only teenage girl I know probably wouldn't know English well enough to read them..
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 13th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, I also find the books to be very engaging and easy to read and I agree, this is one of the best things about the series. In the same way (I know I might be saying unpopular things), when I was reading Twilight, I also found it to be very easy to read and emotionally engaging. Hence - I see where the appeal of Twilight is coming from too, even though I personally dislike the story.

In the love triangle, I hate it that Katniss comes across as egotistic and doesn't seem to see/care what Peeta and Gale want. This might be an unpopular opinion too, but I do not like egotistic people. And because I like Katniss so much otherwise I am just trying to skip all the "I will let Gale kiss me" and "I will drag Peeta into my bed too" scenes.

I think the descriptions show these are YA and meant to attract teenage/slightly older girls who want to imagine glorious clothes and the like. It's pretty escapist.

I think this is my single "on principle" problem with "Hunger Games". I don't mind things that are openly escapist, but Collins is trying to develop anti-consumerism and anti-exploitation themes in the series. anti-consumerism does not add up with "escapism through pretty clothes", you know! Anti-consumerism becomes hypocritical in this case.

As I said - this is probably the single "on principle" problem I have with the series. I will certainly point this to my daughter if/when she will be reading the books.

Re: worldbuilding. I always just try to imagine "How can this work in real life" , and when the things don't add up, things make no sense to me. :D


Edited at 2011-12-13 06:23 pm (UTC)
pwwwiiiggiiiexxpwwwiiiggiiiexx on December 20th, 2011 11:54 am (UTC)
I think the descriptions show these are YA and meant to attract teenage/slightly older girls who want to imagine glorious clothes and the like. It's pretty escapist.

I doubt Collins was trying to "draw in" girls via a few token descriptions of clothing or how it's escapist (how is it escapist btw?). The descriptions of pretty frocks, frills and all were more meant to highlight more of how Katniss views it as excess, unneccesary, and does not see the importance of appearance to the Capitol citizens. It's more of trying to bring about how clothes, fashion were inconsequential, especially when weighted against those in the Districts starving and barely surviving.
stoopid_silly: arya 2stoopid_silly on December 13th, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC)
Definitely agree with you! I enjoyed the first Hunger Games, but the second two really annoyed me!!
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 13th, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC)
You are not giving me any good hopes for "Mockingjay". :D But yes, it would have been an AXCELLENT book if it all just ended in the book one by Katniss inciting a rebellion and/or realising she loves Peeta. I mean - the thing with not realising you are in love with someone when you want them constantly in your bed is actually something quite silly.
stoopid_silly: arya 3stoopid_silly on December 13th, 2011 11:06 pm (UTC)
i thought mockingjay was better than catching fire, but they just didn't go in the direction i hoped they would after the first one :/
Map-Maker, Lighthouse-Keepermarinshellstone on December 13th, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC)
I feel the same way. While I could appreciate the first book, I didn't find the idea very original because we've seen the same theme done before in numerous different ways throughout pop culture.

I also really dislike the Twilight books and don't understand the deep passion and love some people have for that series.

Harry is worlds away in terms of quality!
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 13th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
Twilight - I really dislike the story, but I won't deny that something felt really compelling emotionally when I read it. There is something there, a stange thing , really.

I am seriously looking at Harry in a different way. I might have been on my high horse comparing it to alll the fantasy I have read over the years, without considering that this is YA literature.
kem_viva: Harrykem_viva on December 13th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
Agree with pretty much everything you said, and imo it just got worse in Mockingjay. There is sooo much left unexplained and most of the characters are underdeveloped. I also found Katniss got pretty unbearable by the end of the series. I think in the end I would give the series 6/10.

Harry Potter is really much better :p
♔ Lydzi ♔ Au service du Roi Rickon.lydzi on December 13th, 2011 09:55 pm (UTC)
Mockinjay is the weakest of the three books IA. But I like the fact that the author didn't went the "easy" road... well at least for some parts. There's two other points that makes me shake my head so much sometimes. I still like the all world of Panem and it's possibilities though ^^.
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 13th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC)
It is such a pity because I could see some real potential in that world at first. I was ready for some explanations to be given, but they have never come..

Yes, I have been a Grinch, and harry makes much more sense than this. At least HP world is quite beautifully and consistently developed!
♔ Lydzi ♔ Au service du Roi Rickon.: Resistance : Hunter game.lydzi on December 13th, 2011 09:53 pm (UTC)
The chinese in Firefly felt right to me in the sense that it was bound to be in the future since chinese was one of the most spoken language in the world. The expansion can be effective in a way.
I'm not sure if I'm making sense here but I remember finding this quite witty from Whedon to make it possible in this uchronie.
The all Greek Latin is to go with the all thematic. Empire, colonies and the all "give them bread and games" attitude of the Capitol.

Now you have some very good points ^^. And omg I bloody HATE love triangles. It makes my skin crawl tbh. But I feel like I'm one of the very few who never saw one in the HG trilogy. Idk. It was always very obvious to me that what she was taking from Gale was very different that what she was with Peeta. Adding the fact that Katniss is just a stubborn person and that she wasn't taking the all "get married to Peeta and shut up" the easy way made it even more obvious in my book.
Probably why I wasn't too bothered by this tbh. But you'll see. Lol I can't fanthom to what will be your reaction to a certain plot in book 3. To be really honest, it was the only plot I actually truly rolled my eyes at. We'll talk about it later XD.

This all uchronie is flawed, I think we can all agree on this but I still found it very gripping and the characters are too compelling for me to pass on.
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 13th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, i agree - Chinese felt right to be one of the widely used languages because as you say, there are probably more people speaking Chinese than any other language .

BUT! There is a but. :D The problem in Firefly was that there were NO CHINESE people or anyone who looked remotely Asian is this series. So - all the Chinese people have died out but the language has got incorporated into the mainstream? This doesn't makes sense. It would hvae made sense if the language got incorporated into the mainstream IF the people of Chinese origin have become mixed with the other races. but then we would have seen more people with Asian features! I mean - I think the population of China is something like 1/5 of the whole population. So , if all the races have mixed together, there must have been one person with Asian features per every five people!

You see, I am very geeky and count those things. :D BTW, in the case of Firefly, this is a minor annoyance for me because I LOVE the series overall.

The same with HG - I absolutely accept it that Greek/Roman stuff might have become popular/in fashion, but I need to know how..

What irks me in Katniss/Peeta/Gale triangle is not whom Katniss loved/didn't love, but her complete cluelessness and egoism. I mean - ok, I am all for strong women and all, but telling Peeta she was kissing Gale in the woods AND asking him to stay with her IN BED on the same day? This is no strong woman, this is a clueless woman (and you have to be seriously clueless to think things like "oh, we are just friends, but I like him in my bed everyday").

Oh yes, the series is written very compellingly. And I still like the gender reversal. I just wish katniss wasn't portrayed as such a clueless person

Edited at 2011-12-13 10:20 pm (UTC)
♔ Lydzi ♔ Au service du Roi Rickon.: Resistance : Hunter game.lydzi on December 13th, 2011 10:22 pm (UTC)
jkjgkhfgj I want to tell you some things but I can't because it's in book three but basically and to go with the very big picture, there's a moment where Katniss ears the boys saying all this (and Gale has what I find to be a very very VERY harsh sentence at that point but so terribly true) while they don't think she does and it's glorious XD.

I don't think she's clueless. I actually wrote an all essay here and had to erase it because hello spoilers all over the place :p. I know you don't mind them but still ^^.

Huh such a good point about Firefly. They should have went all for it.
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 13th, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
I think this moment with the boys "saying something" should have come at the end of the book one/beginning of the book 2, otherwise Katniss feels like some kind of "not quite there" brain-wise. :D I think the cluelessness was endearing for me for one book, but her constantly thinking "oh, why did Peeta/Gale/All other people do it?" is becoming too repetitive. I am going to dl the book and count all instances of Katniss thinking "Why did he do it???" and I think the number will be high.

I still love her charcter, but I honestly think the author is overdoing the cluelessness. No-one is that slow in thinking!

I don't mind spoilers/ :D Especially here, where I am sure I semi-know how this ends. :D

Edited at 2011-12-13 10:38 pm (UTC)
♔ Lydzi ♔ Au service du Roi Rickon.: Omona!lydzi on December 13th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
Do not tempt me :p.

I just think that the author saw the all thing in a different light. Or maybe I'm just imagining it. Basically, Katniss chooses Gale in book 2 (she even says it out loud) and lol at her at that moment because it is so obvious that she does it for the wrong reasons. I actually love Gale. I love the character and unlike 99% of the fandom, I love where the author went with him but it adds to the all confusing elements between Panem the Capitol and Panem the Districts. She's in front of what she considers to be two choices: boy with the bread but he's been marked by the Capitol and the hunger games and Gale who is like her and almost represent the rebellion (his speech is certainly crystal clear in that area). Of course she was going for Gale almost at the same time she agrees to represent the fight.

I really saw more the "love triangle" to be a Faith one about the all symbolic path she had. Problem is, the feelings has always been also very obvious.

I was going to post the quote I just told you and searched for it in english since I have the french version and ... wow... it's so not the same meaning :o. It's a lot more harsh in french :o.

English quote: “Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can’t survive without.”
French translated literally by yours truly: " She will choose the one she estimates to be more fit in order for her survival."
Oh *___*.
blueocean80blueocean80 on December 13th, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
alsjdalkjsdlsadj THE VORKOSIGAN SAGA, OMG! LASKJDKLASDKFADSH MILES! AND IVAN! And...and...EVERYONE! ALDJASKLDjALD ANSDKASJDJKHFAKJDG JASDGKJAGSDKJAGSJFKA SKDHGASKDJGJAKSDG JADGKJAGSDJKAS GDKJAFHKJAGSDKJSGADaljhdlkasdlLAHJDLKAH
Excuse me if i'm stuck in capslock-land, but it's one of my favorite things EVER. It got me through you-know-what. And as silly as it sounds, but I kept thinking "if Miles can do it, so can I".

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I was reading Lois McMaster Bujold's blog and she said she finished the new book, which will be aaaaaall about Ivan. I am SO excited, you have no idea!

Re: The hunger games. I think you might like Mockingjay more than Catching Fire. Me? It was the opposite. I liked the first book a lot (it was my favorite of the bunch), then came Catching Fire and then Mockingjay, but I won't spoil you with why I think so until you're all done with the trilogy.

Why in the world that seems to be highly technologically developed people are still using coal? Why are they using manual labour? Also, when technology is developed well enough the production of material goods becomes very cheap which leads to the overall increase in the quality of life. This is the law of technological development. Why not in Panem?

The way I read the whole thing? It wasn't about coal at all. Or about the technology or economy for that matter either. Technology was kept away from the people of the colonies to keep them in check and "ignorant", if you pass me that term. It was a way to control them. Why, then, a technologically advanced society would choose coal, of all things, and not, say, enslave poorer colonies by having them build something useful for the Capitol? I think it was yet another way to control them. For the ppl in the colonies what went on in the Capitol was more of a vague feeling. They </i>knew</i> the Capitol had it all, from technology to money and power, but it was more of a vague notion imho, not something they could very well imagine and that's because the Capitol kept them in the dark. And don't forget how isolated each colony was: from the other colonies and from the Capitol as well. I actually thought this bit of worldbuilding wasn't as faily as you find it. Is it perfect? Nope, but I could buy it.

Also? It's possible you anad your friends have talked about all this already. If you did, sorry. I'm too tired to read everything. Sorry, sorry. *hangs head*


PS: you know hwat I loved about the series? The twists. Maybe other readers appreciated them as well.

PPS: okay, I re-read my reaction to Mockingjay and I take it back. You might find it more irritating than CF.
blueocean80blueocean80 on December 13th, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC)
Aw, man, HTML FAIL
I didn't mean to strike through all that text. I meant to make it smaller. And of course I can't edit the comment. Sorry
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 14th, 2011 10:29 am (UTC)
I have read (and loved) several books of Vorkosigan Saga when I was younger in Russia, but never had a chance to catch up since then. I CAN NOT WAIT. As you csay, the series just ARE GREAT. (I am in capslock mode too).

What you say re: technology is possible, but I need explanations in the narrative as to how the system works or why it was made this way. It just feels as if the author doesn't really care for this side of things, as if it is just a decoration for her, if this makes sense? But I am a person who needs to have her world right!

The twists? I must be an old well-worn cynic but I have seen almost all of them coming. :(
this dangerous but irresistible pastimeembitca on December 14th, 2011 12:11 am (UTC)
I'm writing to agree with you. And the story that Hunger Games reminds me of the most is The Long Walk by Stephen King (but I haven't read Battle Royale). Basically Hunger Games = Extremely Derivative.

I read the first book and thought it was okay. I didn't bother with the other two because the I just didn't find the first one compelling enough to continue.

Of course, I've never been able to get into Harry Potter either so I feel like an alien sometimes with my total "meh" to some really popular series.
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 14th, 2011 10:31 am (UTC)
I think I am the same about popular series. When so many people like something one expects something .. really special, but it often just a decent book(s) that became popular because is touched something that worked well. Like in Hunger Games case, it must be the gender reversal with Katniss.
making oatmeal taste like ultra-bacon: {The Good Wife} Kalindawildtiger7 on December 14th, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
I stopped reading the Hunger Games series after book two. It wasn't for me. Mainly, because Katniss was so naive when everyone else wasn't. And like you, I'm not a fan of love triangles, either (though I did really like Peeta).
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 14th, 2011 10:33 am (UTC)
I really like Peeta too.Although neither ne of Gale have too much depth IMHO.
geeklee on December 14th, 2011 01:38 am (UTC)
i had to post even though i should be finishing a paper.

i agree with you totally about it all. i prefer the first book of the trilogy by far. i usually do since, like you, world building is extremely important. when questioned about the sparse details about panem, the Capitol and the other districts, collins said since katniss didn't know, we can't. i'm afraid that only solidified my dislike of first person narrative. left with only the words on a page, they have to be reliable and encompassing.

for many, hunger games is about katniss. period. for me, it was about katniss and her world. so i was in love with the series during the first book but became less and less so as the books progressed. that's all i will say so i don't spoil anything for you. i look forward to hearing what you think of mockingjay, which i disliked the most, due to its hurried pace and katniss' journey. i will say that collins doesn't shy away from being real and is definitely trying to give her opinion of things to her readers. that's why i agree with one of your flist who commented Collins is trying to develop anti-consumerism and anti-exploitation themes in the series.

collins is pretty heavy handed with her opinions which are a down and dirty look at a lot of how trivial we've become as well as how ruthless we can be. for that reason, i recommend the trilogy to all the students willing to pick up the books. it is a wonderful starting point for so many discussions. so while i love the series because of what i can do with it in a classroom, i don't love the series.

btw, one of the biggest discussion points we have is the final scene of hunger games. do you believe katniss wanted to use the berries as her final act of defiance against the capitol or to try to force their hands to spare both her and peeta? of course there is no right answer but it is interesting to hear people's thoughts.

as for your thoughts on technology, the books make me think of third world countries where the rich have all the comforts of the west but the poor have very few. i mean most countries in south america and africa live exactly as the people of panem. well, minus the games. sometimes.

your thoughts on harry potter intrigued me. i do like the series, again, because i think it is an interesting read for young adults. having them grow along with harry is interesting so i usually have them read the first 2 books one year, then the next 2 and the last 3 the final year. i agree the world building is rowling's strong point (i liked the series much more than hunger games, tbh) but i don't think the books are classics in the real sense of the word. i am curious about how they will weather over time.
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 15th, 2011 10:16 am (UTC)
YAY!

I think "collins said since katniss didn't know, we can't." sounds like an excuse from Collins. :D I don't mind first person narrative usually because it is, as you say, often about personal journey and "eye-opening". but after 2 books Katniss seems to be as clueless as she was at the beginning!

that's why i agree with one of your flist who commented Collins is trying to develop anti-consumerism and anti-exploitation themes in the series.

Oh, that was me. :D But because of this, I find the lengthy "on and on and on" passages about Katniss' dresses and outfits to be particular jarring. It feels hypocritical, you know? This is one of the points I will definitely point out to my daughter in she reads the series, because this can be confusing!

re: final of Hunger Games. I think both? Actually there were several things going on here, all at the same time:

1. She wanted to live,
2. She wanted Peeta to live (because she loves him)
3. she knew her life will be worthy of nothing if she kills Peeta at the very end. I mean - years and years of regret and guilty conscience.
4. She is a defiant sort of character and doesn't naturally "obey" so defiance was definitely in the mix too.

i mean most countries in south america and africa live exactly as the people of panem. well, minus the games. sometimes.

This is true, but I want to know how this system can develop in a single country that used to be homogeneous? I mean - how the divide of various industries came about? And why only 12? I mean - what about those in-between industries? Also, my main point was : why would they still be using manual labour in the Districts if the technology is so well developed? I imagine explotation in the well-developed technologically world easily, but something more along the lines of humans being connected to machines .. or something.

I am the same as you re: harry Potter. I don't see it as classic at all. It just the comparison came to my mind when I was reading HG and I realised that in HP everything fits so so much better, like LOTS BETTER. As in - HP world seems like a real world, where Hunger Games world seems to me as a decoration for Collins.

Edited at 2011-12-15 10:17 am (UTC)
geeklee on December 15th, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC)
oh lots of interesting things to think about!

the lengthy passages about katniss' dresses and outfits i think serve 2 roles. firstly, its all part of her "beautification" for the games. that's one of my first questions for the students: what are your thoughts about having a team of stylists prepare you for the games that will probably be your death? it all supports collin's anti-consumerism but also collin's commentary on society norms and what's accepted and not accepted. the dresses and make-up are part of capital life. its meant to be jarring for katniss who comes from the districts where these things are completely not the norm.

secondly, all her outfits are very political. the wedding dresses are the least of these but they still symbolize her continued oppression. and all the other are very visual representations of her role in the story, so they work for me.

i totally agree with your thoughts on the berry act at the end of hunger games. however, there is a large group of people that feel her threatening to eat the berries is more connected to a willful act of defiance against the capital. there is specific reference made to the conversation she has with peeta on the roof of the training center where peeta says he wants to die with dignity and not be made into something he's not by the games. so they see the berries as a follow up to that more than katniss' natural rebelliousness.

i see your point about the districts still using manual labor. i believe that is meant to oppress the people as much as the games are. keeps them from having too much time to focus on the capital. one of my other discussion points for students is their take on education in the districts. they are only taught information related to their districts products.

i love your questions about the districts. to your first point, i think most of the answers are collins didn't really care about the why or how. there are only 12 districts because they are based on the myth of the minotaur. she wasn't too bothered to come up with a reason for it in the world of panem. the world of the districts could have been so cool to create but i agree with you, they are only decoration for collins.

she is continually pressed to say more about panem but she stands by her belief that readers have everything they need. whatever. the director has already said there will be more back story in the movie.
Cult of Nerdjoie_de_vivre3 on December 14th, 2011 08:32 am (UTC)
Lurker coming out to say hi! :)
I got to your blog from mookiehyun's LJ and have been enjoying your various LJ posts especially ones on books since you often went into such awesome depth, so thanx for that.

I would like to come out of the woodwork to defend "Catching Fire"'s honor. I hope you don't mind. :) "Catching Fire" is my favorite book of the series since I find the first one's similarities to "Battle Royale" too uncanny. I'm a fan of both the movie and the book of BR so reading Hunger was like being hit with waves of deja vu. I know fans of the books argue that most plot lines are recycled works but there are still the details. I mean Collins even have the perky announcer from BR the movie in the role of Elfie. However, I also think that while BR is more of a study on the human psyche, Hunger is more of an adventure kind of story. So "Catching Fire" was more original to me, I enjoyed her creativity with the Arena setting and I love the whole strangers bonding together to survive kind of thing. The 2nd book was pure fun for me. I didn't have your same problems with the world building since I agree with a commenter up there about coal = electricity. I didn't even realize that Hunger Games is set in the U.S. Was that ever stated or just implied? I kinda breezed through the books so details escape me.

The love triangle is laughable because it's so weak that it barely existed for me. What annoys me the most about the third book is how Collins resolved that issue. She did a character assassination to resolve that burning fandom question "Peeta or Gale?" which I thought was completely poor plotting and writing on her part. I do like the ending a lot though which I know lots hated. It was only then that I feel Collins deliver any kind of messages through her series.

The books are easy reading. They are concise and condense enough to keep you interested because it's pretty much a case of BAM! BAM! BAM! of things happening. But I find the series to lack depth. I get no emotional resonance after finishing it and have no desire to go back for re-reading. Harry Potter, on the other hand, I reread almost every single year and it's still engrossing each time.

What I appreciate most about Hunger Games tho is how Collins put in a girl as the main protagonist in elements often navigated by a heroic male. I love how kickass and competent she is in most aspects of her life. I love that she was driven from the get go not because of a romantic love but a deep love for her family and her district. I also like how the majority of her actions are driven by basic human decencies.

And wow long comment is long. Sorry about that!
Alexandra Leavingalexandral on December 15th, 2011 10:30 am (UTC)
Re: Lurker coming out to say hi! :)
YAY! You are so welcome here!

re: Battle Royale. I think this is still my main problem with the series altogether. Similarities between HG and BR are too many to be "just a fluke". I have seen Collins denying knowing anything about BR, but I think there is something very very fishy about this. In one of the interviews "Collins says that she was channel-surfing the TV where she saw people competing for some prize and then saw footage of the Iraq war. She describes how the two combined in an "unsettling way" and she got the idea for the series". I wonder if she saw (without may be realising it) "Battle Royale" on that day and this is why Hunger Games is so similar to Battle Royale.

I still have big problems with worldbuilding, for me it is not just coal. I want to know how the system of districts can develop in a single country that used to be homogeneous? I mean - how the divide of various industries came about? And why only 12? I mean - what about those in-between industries? Also, my main point was : why would they still be using manual labour in the Districts if the technology is so well developed? I imagine explotation in the well-developed technologically world easily, but something more along the lines of humans being connected to machines .. or something.

I was sure from the beginning that Gale is going to do something "unforgivable". I am glad I was right. :D

I agree with you on "lacking depth", and yes, although I am quite enjoying reading, I don't imagine going back to the series, not ever.

And yes, I agree, the main good point about HG is the character of Katniss and gender reversal. This is why for me this book series is still rated 7/10. there is definitely something good in this.

Edited at 2011-12-15 10:31 am (UTC)
Cult of Nerd: Cranesjoie_de_vivre3 on December 16th, 2011 05:54 am (UTC)
Re: Lurker coming out to say hi! :)
I think my non problem with the world building stems from the fact that I never thought Panem = the US. To me it's an alternate universe kind of thing. It's set on Earth but other than that Panem and its history don't reflect our world at all. So to me, it makes sense that the various industries division come about based off on the area's geographical resources. 12 has coal so it's a mining town, Rue's district has prairies so it's an agricultural, etc. The Capitol hold the seat of power so it has all the technological advances at its disposal while the other districts get just enough to sustain themselves and contribute to Panem as a whole in their respective role.

re: her dresses. Those descriptions kind of crack me up sometimes. Yes, her outfits do serve as a plot point as examples of defiance on Cinna's parts but mainly I just see it as Collins writing for a young female audience.

re: BR. I don't know why Collins doesn't admit to the similarities b/t the two works. She has enough original ideas to make it not a case of plagiarism. The foundation is similar but the execution is so different and she veers from it soon enough.

re: Gale. The boy totally got shafted =/

p.s: thank you for the welcome!
pwwwiiiggiiiexxpwwwiiiggiiiexx on December 20th, 2011 12:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Lurker coming out to say hi! :)
I want to know how the system of districts can develop in a single country that used to be homogeneous? I mean - how the divide of various industries came about?

Through strong policing & fences, physical borders & fear and intimidation.
When Gale gets lashed in CF, Katniss was shocked but the older generation, Haymitch & Mrs Everdeen, they weren't so surprised. They grimaced, but it wasn't something /new/ to them. They'd seen such situations before (~25years ago, seeing as Haymitch won the 50th Games). Also, the new Peacekeeper who whipped Gale was only abated when one of the others fudged something about the correct number of lashes already being dispensed. So it stands to reason that the Capitol had a strict system of rules, in which border control is sure to feature, and using Peacekeepers, punishments and fences (electric fence separating D12 & the wilderness that led to D13), enforced separation between all the Districts.

The individual industries could have been a way of creating dependence on the system of Panem for their other goods. Should any one District want to revolt, the Capitol could simply cut off their supplies. And for places like D12 where coal is produced, I imagine it must be pretty difficult to sustain the District if this happens. It also isolates them, and it's a much scarier prospect to revolt against an all-powerful system of the Capitol when you're all alone. This helps maintain their control over the Districts.
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