I was suckered into reading The Hunger Games by Ted Kluck and N. D. Wilson. I love both of those guys as writers, and they both posted reviews of the series. Just knowing they thought enough of the books to read them, I thought I might do so as well. Yet I wanted to hold off on reading their reflections until I’d made my way through the series myself. Now I wish I would have just read their reviews and skipped the books.
[You need to read Kluck's and Wilson's reviews in order to make sense out of the rest of this post. Also, spoiler alert.]
I understand the pathos that provoked Kluck’s positive response in his review. But at the end of the day, I resonate with the concerns raised by N. D. Wilson. Despite Katniss’s initial sacrifice for her sister, the rest of Katniss’s story is eaten up with the Darwinian desire to outlast the other hapless victims in Panem. In many ways, Katniss is just as ruthless as any other villain in the story. She is just as willing to kill innocents, and she accommodates herself quite nicely into the machinations of the tyrannical “Capitol.” In short, she was a terrible protagonist. By the end of the series, I just wasn’t that into her.
The story began with great promise with Katniss’s great sacrifice at the first “reaping,” but by the end of book three I felt I was being forced into a teenage girl’s self-absorbed puppy-love-triangle melodrama–sort of like the Twilight series with less vampires and more spaceships. It was as if the big question the books sought to answer was who Katniss would end up loving—sappy Peeta or scrappy Gale. Perhaps the author calculated this particular plot point to draw in the much-coveted adolescent female demographic. It was very reminiscent of the “Team Edward/Team Jacob” meme connected with the Twilight series and just as manipulative.
I enjoy fiction when I enjoy the characters. In The Hunger Games, however, the characterization really missed the mark in my view. Consequently, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Now I’m glad it is.