Flame away, okay?

Yeah, I read the damn Hunger Games.  And I liked it.  I won’t judge you for judging me.

But hear me out first.

I’m a sucker for a good story about freedom. And although the concept is simplified – dumbed down, really – in Suzanne-Collins land, at least it’s there.

Awkward fact: In high school, I was totally that kid who wandered around with a battered paperback copy of Atlas Shrugged tucked under my arm, smugly certain of – and obnoxiously vocal about – my position on every issue under the sun, no matter how trivial.

(Unfortunately, because someone decided it was a good idea to let me be Editor-in-Chief of our school newspaper, many of these positions are now recorded in print, for posterity.  Thank Galt this was before things went digital.)

Anyway, of course, I’ve evolved.  Beyond secondhand flannel shirts and thrifted Chuck Taylors.  And also beyond taking the ideological road on every single issue.  But deep down, I admit: I’m still rather smitten by rebellion and defiance, and by people taking a stand against governments that are doing things that they shouldn’t be doing.

And although it’s a teen-oriented book, peppered with nauseating Twilight-esuqe romantic dialogue and populated by one-dimensional characters that push the limits of credibility, there’s a little bit of Ayn Rand in The Hunger Games.  A little bit of George Orwell.  A little bit of Aldous Huxley.  A little bit of all of the books that really fired me up about reading and learning and having opinions on things, back when I was a gawky adolescent.

In other words, there’s a skeleton of something meaningful and thought-provoking in The Hunger Games books.  They may not go down as classic pieces of literature, but at least they do more than paint a generic “goodies versus baddies!” picture.  They touch on an element of classic dystopian writing that many teenagers would probably never otherwise have exposure to.

So for that, Ms. Collins, I’m willing to overlook those awkwardly-written kisses and underdeveloped characters.

I haven’t read the last book in the series yet.  It’s in transit on an order from Borders. [SO HEY, no spoilers!]  I kind of hope it arrives tomorrow.  I have the weekend off, and I wouldn’t mind spending my Saturday curling up with a little Mockingjay.

So if you must, judge away.  Really, go ahead.  I’ll be sitting in the corner pretending to be as stoic as Dagny Taggart.

PS: Have you checked your wallet, purse, underwear drawer, etc for unused Borders GCs?  They’re about to go out of business, and I managed to rustle up almost $40 worth of books by combining a bunch of unused and partially-used cards that I had laying around!

PPS: Have you read any of the Hunger Games books?  No?  Do you want to?  I’ll happily send my lightly-used copy of the first book to someone.  Just tell me you’re interested in the comments and I’ll pick a random winner at beer o’clock on Sunday!

47 responses to “Flame away, okay?

  1. My boyfriend thinks I’m lame for reading all of the Hunger Games books. I worked at a middle school last year, and it was required reading. But I got hooked and ended up buying and reading all three. No, it’s not “literature” but it’s definitely got some mature themes and it’s FUN to read. Students and staff all loved it.

  2. Um…I am not sure whether to be annoyed or amused or OFFENDED YOU MEANIE. I read all three books between Christmas (when I received them for a present) and New Year’s Day. This was after, or course, reading all the Twilight books. My response to anyone who has ever given me sass about it (which to this point is almost no one): What have you read lately? Unless it’s Going Rogue, reading something is better than sitting on your ass and watching Mad Money.

  3. “Thank Galt” may officially go down as my very favorite new expression.
    No flaming. I caved and read the first book this summer, and since I love me some good post-apocolyptic dystopia as much as the next person, really liked it, too.
    I can forgive klunky writing, but only if the story still lets me “fall down the rabbit hole” — this one did. And yes, damnit, so did the Twilight Series.
    Robin Cook and I, however, are on a permanent break. Gah. I think I’m going to be writing a blog post about how I have kicked that guy outta my library. I mean, really — he’s not even trying anymore.

  4. I’ve heard several people say it’s good. I’d read it. You can enter me in the beer o’clock drawing.

  5. It’s not the books that annoy me, it’s the fangirls that go apeshit over it. Hey, I like Sex And The City, but I hate the commercialism and the stupid girls who think they’re going to move to NYC and be Carrie Bradshaw.

  6. I loved the Hunger Games. I just thought they were fun, fluffy books.

    Where I flame away is at Atlas Shrugged. If a guy claims Atlas Shrugged is his favorite book, that’s a dealbreaker. I’m glad to hear you have evolved. :-)

  7. I broke down and read Hunger Games too. I’m 50% through the 3rd one. And I like them. No flames.

  8. The Hunger Games were excellent books, I loved them because of their darkness, their great story pace, the characters, everything. I didn’t feel the Twilight-esque romance bits were too overwhelming, though I never read Twilight. It was great to see a strong female character, too. I think I read these books faster than any books ever in my life.

    Enjoy Mockingjay!

  9. Wait–did you read Catching Fire? Are you skipping it and reading book 3? I know that you say the characters are one-dimensional, but in book two there are some significant developments that I really enjoyed!

    I’m glad you liked book 1 though! YAY!

  10. I loved the Hunger Games series, even though I flew through them way too fast! I have no patience with books. Sometimes it’s fun to take a break and indulge in a nice, easy read :)

  11. I love the Hunger Games. I read all three in just a few days and can’t wait for the movies to come out.

  12. BT hates fiction (he thinks it’s a waste of time) but powered through this series in a week. they must be damn good. they’re on my list! no shame.

    • Bah! Seriously, BT? I will admit that I love nonfiction, but fiction is such a wonderful thing, too.

      Read ’em, you’ll like ’em!

  13. No judgment here- I only shit on chick lit. I’ve been meaning to give Hunger Games a shot.

  14. I have it on my “to-read” list since so many people have enjoyed it but I’m trying to hold out on reading it until my Hawaii vacation so I can pound out all three books in a week. Or, that’s the idea, anyway. PS – are you on Goodreads? Sounds like you are a reader and I’d love to see some of your reviews of books!

  15. Oh, I devoured those books in like, a week. It was even more fun picturing woody harrelson as Haymitch – I feel that is a brilliant piece of casting. Can’t wait for the movies. So clearly, no judgement.

    But have you ever read the Harry Potter books? Best of the “tween” book craze. They are actually well written, thought out, not full of twilight esque romances. I suggest.

  16. Yeeah, I read them all in about four days total. They were some of the first books I read on my phone’s Kindle app, so I hadn’t gotten the hang of knowing where I was in the book, and when I saw END OF BOOK ONE pop up, I’m pretty sure I actually yelled “NO!!”

  17. I’m totally interested! The sweet irony of this post for me is that at my legit book club meeting last night, for which we had read The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (not a breezy book), someone of course worked Hunger Games into the discussion. Those books are EVERYWHERE! That being said, I definitely feel that I should read them so that I know what the hell everyone is talking about!

  18. I’m interested in your book offering. This whole dystopian thing with the Hunger Games being popular has made me want to go back and read “Handmaids Tale.”
    Oh and no judgement from me. I’m currently reading “Water for Elephants.” :)

  19. I loved the books! I read them all so quickly. I liked how they were so easy fluffy reading but still had thought provoking ideas. I also have always loved dystopia books…brave new world, 1984, the giver, etc. Enjoy the last book! I wonder what the movies will be like…

  20. I agree with your review. I didn’t want to read the books because I assumed they were like Twilight–which I despised. But I was pleasantly surprised at how good the books were. I also kept in the back of my mind that they were teen books, so I wasn’t expecting a whole lot of character developing.

    • That’s very true. And they’re very plot-driven, so I can see how there’s not a lot of room for extensive character development.

  21. i’m a longtime lurker who has been meaning to get around to checking out this hunger games nonsense (and, uh, commenting, of course) for a while now. come on, random machine!

  22. I’m slightly interested. I had it on hold at the library, and then when they notified me that it was available I never got around to picking it up. oops.

    My younger sister (ahem, she is 13) was telling me all about the books. My recommendation: Don’t ask a 13 her opinion of the books. You will end up confused and glassy-eyed. That’s an hour of my life I can’t get back.

    I am interested by the concept of what the book is about, or what I think it’s about. I can’t be sure it’s correct since I got the deets from a 13yr old, super dramatic, girl.

    Glad you enjoyed the book. curling up on the couch with a book sounds lovely. i should go to the library one of these days… i think i owe them money.

    • I think I owe my library money too! Like two dollars, but they’ll probably slap me on the wrist next time I check out :)

  23. I just watched Ayn Rand’s interview-biography on Netflix yesterday. I was thinking of getting Atlas Shrugged this weekend, but now I’m pretty convinced I should get the Hunger Games first. High fives all around!

  24. I loved the books! I think the first was my favorite, but they were all enjoyable, easy reads. I’ll be interested to see what they do with the movies.

  25. Enter me please! I live under a rock and havent heard a ton about this series, but lately I’ve been trying to read heavy literature and then never finish it. So, a quick read – that it seems like many people like- sounds good!
    BTW- my H keeps telling me to read Atlas Shrugged. I suppose I should. :)

  26. Fuck.

    Picture won’t go into the comment. Click on my name to see what I’m HA!’ing about though.

  27. I’ll start by saying I already read them, so if by some act of God I win, I’ll gracefully bow out.
    Secondly, I’d love to know what you think when you’re done reading them, so please feel free to email me so we can talk all things HG. :)
    I also made the 1984, Orwellian-connection when reading them, so it’s interesting to me that you saw that too. Orwell-light, perhaps.

  28. I’ve never read the Hunger Games…but I’ve heard all sorts of things about them, one way or the other.

    I have a massive commute now and am working my way through audio books!

  29. How timely – I just read the first one on the way to cancun! Basically because everyone else was reading them. It’s good! But I like Twilight too. And Harry Potter. And I don’t like the “girl with the xx tattoo series” so what do I know :).
    I give them 3 stars outa 4. Page turner fa sho.

  30. I enjoyed your eye-opening review. I started reading The Hunger Games per my niece’s suggestion and never got past the dialogue and Twilight-ness. I feel like a literary snob after reading your review. I should have looked for the Huxley and Orwell in there instead of focusing on the watered-down message. Truly, it just matters that adolescents are reading! :)

  31. I felt the exact same way about The Hunger Games. I could really do without the teen romance, which really got worse in the second book (which is when my husband gave up). I thought the ending was overall worth it for me, but I love that you put the review perfectly. I’m still pretty excited about the movie though!