24 November 2013

Why Do I Hate The Hunger Games?

No really, I’m trying to figure it out.

Caution: Spoilers ahead.

Let’s start from the beginning. (Because it’s a very good place to start.) Drat, now that song is going to be in my head. Figures.  And it doesn’t really mesh with The Hunger Games.

There, we’ve come full circle.

I really liked the first two books in The Hunger Games series. The author is brilliant at #BeMeanToCharacters. Honestly, maybe the best that I’ve read. I spent the entire first two books flinching for Katniss at least every other page. Even I, as a reader, thought “It might be easier if she just dies.”

But of course I didn’t mean it. Because I LOVE stories and heroes and everything that goes along with them.

Allow me to take a deep breath.

Let’s talk Lord of the Rings for a second. I didn’t read the books until after the first movie came out. I had NO IDEA that Frodo didn’t march up the side of Mt. Doom and toss the ring in like a good little hobbit.

Now that I’ve had some time to digest it (and the movies showed it better than the books) I get it. The One Ring drew Frodo down to depths that he could not get out of no matter how big his heart was. It literally consumed him.

My problem was, when I read the books, I never caught that. Not enough of it to justify Frodo’s actions at the end. If I remember right, the third book is mostly from Sam’s point of view, so the reader only sees what Sam see’s not what Frodo is feeling.

Then, after the One Ring is destroyed, Frodo can never go back to who he was. No, the problem is that he can’t heal until he after he leaves.

That’s lame. It goes against my personal belief system and will always bug me.

BUT, I still love the story of The Lord of the Rings.  Why? Because there are other heroes. Other characters that find their own way, their own courage and face their fears.

Katniss and Frodo have too much in common. They both volunteer for something they’re pretty sure they won’t live through. The odds are NOT in their favor. Powers bigger than the characters are using them as pawns, and they are forced to make decisions that no sane person should have to make. People betray them. Their lives really, really suck. They both survive for different reasons—Katniss is tough as nails and is used to being a few days from death, where Frodo’s compassion carries him to the gates of hell and beyond.

So why do I love LOTR but despise THG?

I think I’ve finally found an answer.

In LOTR, at the end of the story, Frodo can’t take it and has to leave. But Sam stays. Sam comes back from the adventure changed in too many ways, but he stays. He goes after his woman, they have a family and he runs the Shire for ages. Aragorn takes his destiny by the horns. Other people survive—although they are all changed—to carry on in the new world.

At the end of THG, no one is okay. Katniss is insane, Peta will never recover, Gale can never see Katniss again because of “What he did”, and no one is actually happy.  Not to mention that everyone else we ever knew is pretty much dead. The world goes on, a better place we hope, but THEIR world—the character’s world—is sad. More than sad, they are still only just surviving.

There’s no Sam to live in the new world. There’s no Aragorn to keep the peace.

I think that’s why I hate The Hunger Games. Katniss is not the typical hero. I’m kind of okay with that. But without someone to be my hero, I can’t love that last book.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Whether you loved the books or hated them or you sit somewhere in the middle.


Taylor Ivie said...

*Possible Spoilers below*

I think you and I share the same hatred for the last book. While I admit I've never read it, I know the basic plot and the ending....and it's just so bleak. No hope for anything. The hero is completely incapacitated and of no use to anyone at all, least of all, herself. There's no resolution or hope that anything has changed. It's almost like..."I spent hours reading these books, and rooting for Katniss, and now she's a vegetable?" It's like your faith in the journey has been betrayed.

-Jo- said...

I like that, Taylor! Way to sum up. :)

Ryan said...

I'm not so sure it has so much to do with the ending,I think it's because Katniss feels like she's sidelined for the whole book. She's no longer very active in doing things and we feel like we are sidelined too. Lots of stories have sad endings but only this one seems like a let down because we feel like it could have been avoidable if we (Katniss) could have got in there and done something about it.

Also, there are all these cool things happening with districts being overthrown, but Katniss has no bearing on any of them. She just hears about them.

Sus House said...

I don't think the ending is as bleak as you describe. I mean, Katniss does do the whole vegetable thing for a bit, but she comes out of it. And there is hope in the end. She has family. At the start, Katniss is so closed off even thinking about love because the Hunger Games loom over them all. Everything they go through brings about a world where she can finally open herself up to love. She's may have been through too much to get a happily ever after, but I can still see the happiness in the ending. Despite the lasting effects of fighting for their lives over and over again, Katniss and Peeta manage to make a life and family of their own. It really is a better world, there is hope there didn't use to be.

-Jo- said...

Good point, Ryan. Katniss is side-lined for most of the third book.

And Sue...I like the way you think. Way to be optimistic! I must admit to being bitter that they destroyed Peeta, and it's kid of Katniss' fault, so I have a bad taste in my mouth about the last book. But I love your thoughts.

Keep them coming everyone!