Tag Archives: heroine

Film Review: Brave: Too Much a Tale Type

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Brave tells the story of a wild-spirited Scottish princess, Merida, who does not want to marry when her mother tells her to.  In an attempt to get out of the marriage, she visits a witch, and she accidentally changes her mother into a bear.  She seeks to reverse the spell, and after getting to know and love her mother better in her changed-form, only tears and a confession of love and Merida’s wrongdoing cause the change.

Sound familiar?

Yeah, I thought so too.

And there’s really nothing new and original enough to justify to me retelling that story.  It was an enjoyable movie, yes, but really, the story itself was a little… flat….  It relied too heavily on a fairy tale type, and never really seemed to transcend the type to compare with the moving, original stories with which Pixar has before impressed me (Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., Up, Toy Story 3, The Incredibles).

Many elements, in fact, of this movie seemed too familiar.  Whenever the will-o-wisps appeared, I saw the little bobbley-headed tree spirits from Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke (though I know the two spirits are not identical by any stretch and know too that will-o-wisps are traditional spirits and so come with their own rules, but there was something oddly similar I thought between the renderings of the spirits in the two films all the same), so they seemed unoriginal and not-so-magical because of that.  The scene in which Merida attempts to teach her mother to fish bear-style seemed to be a near-replica of a scene in Disney’s Brother Bear.

Brave probably suffers mostly because of my higher than average expectations of Pixar.  I’ve already listed a number of Pixar films I think are of a much higher quality.

Particularly, the characters in these stories seemed better rounded than the types in Brave, which included the reluctant princess, the king, the queen/the strict mother, the witch, the brothers, the nursemaid.  Few of these characters can be much described by me beyond this.  To me, only Merida and her mother had any real depth to them; most of the others are just fulfilling a role that needs to be filled for the plot to work and their characters were not explored enough to make them “real.”  Some like the nursemaid and the brothers are unnecessary and included purely for pleasure.  These two (or really four characters) are entertaining.  One could argue that they are perhaps the necessary comic relief in the tale, but the witch, necessary to the plot, also serves as a great deal of comic relief, being incredibly quirky and punning briefly on modern-day society (sales pitches and recorded phone messages).

Pixar does again demonstrate its keen ability to convey plot with speechless characters (the queen in bear-form, the brothers, and the nursemaid) and as ever creates a visually stunning piece.  Brave also boasts an incredible soundtrack, one I think I’m likely to purchase.

I know others will fight me on this review, but these are my honest opinions.

In sum, I liked it, but certainly didn’t love it and wasn’t overly impressed by the story.  I would watch it again, but not I think with the regularity of Tangled or How to Train Your Dragon.  I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy it.

***

Brave.  Dir. Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, & Steve Purcell.  Disney & Pixar.  2012.

This review is not endorsed by Disney, Pixar, Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell, anyone in the cast, or anyone involved in making this film.  It is an independent, honest review by a viewer.

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Film Review: The Hunger Games: “Thank you for your consideration”

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Minor series spoilers.

I’ve just returned from seeing the much-touted cinematic adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, which was highly influenced by Suzanne Collins herself in her roles as co-screenwriter and co-producer (I applaud her victory on that count).  You might remember that I wasn’t a huge fan of the book itself.  I suppose it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that I wasn’t head-over-heels for the film either.

The film cleared up Katniss’ gender easily (reading the book, her first person voice was masculine enough to greatly confuse me, really, till I turned to the back and saw that she was given the feminine pronoun), and I enjoyed its insight into life outside the arena, in the Game room, President Snow’s garden, Districts 12 and 11….  These insights deepen the plot by showing the causes and effects of Katniss’ actions in the arena, about which Katniss might speculate in the book but of which she knows nothing for certain.  As someone who I think ships the (I believe, but remember I haven’t read the second or third books yet) star-crossed pairing of Katniss/Gale, the scenes of Gale’s reactions to Katniss and Peeta’s budding though potentially pretended relationship were particularly heart-rending.

Almost all around, this is a well-acted film.  The characters were easy to feel for (or hate as appropriate), and little interaction was required to express their feelings for one another.  Especially skilled were Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, and Amandla Stenberg as Rue.

What this movie failed to express—or failed to express as clearly as the book does was Katniss’ and Peeta’s reactions to being pawns in the Hunger Games.  The focus seemed to be on the excitement and peril of the Games and less on the problem with the government that the Games exposes.  This, I think, is mostly the fault of the medium.  Katniss’ voice is a close one in the novel.  Her inner monologue is absent from the movie.  Peeta’s anti-government feelings, though, might have been played up more on film.

Much, really, overall might have been better explained, such as mockingjays’ and tracker jackers’ historical importance and the symbolism of three upheld fingers.

I’d be interested to hear opinions from those who haven’t read the books.  Was the story clear?  What did you or didn’t you understand?

I can see though where fans of the books would come away quite satisfied.  The movie’s plot adheres quite closely to the book’s (so far as I recall), so fans of the series will grumble about errors more quietly than, say, Tolkienites or Potter-heads tended to after seeing their films.

I almost think though, for all this and all my previous grumbles, that I prefer the book to the movie because it more strongly comes across as a political struggle, and I enjoy a strong focus on politics in my plots.

It maybe should be mentioned that, while I haven’t read Catching Fire or Mockingjay, I’ve read a few spoilers.  I’m not actually sure that I felt that The Hunger Games book did emphasize political struggle as strongly as I’d have liked; I think I’ve imposed a stronger emphasis on those stirrings of political dissent post-spoiler than I originally read in Katniss’ grumbles.

My film rating?

***

The Hunger Games.  Dir. Gary Ross.  Lionsgate.  2012.

This review is not endorsed by Lionsgate, Gary Ross, anyone in the cast, or anyone involved in making this film, nor Suzanne Collins or Scholastic. It is an independent, honest review by a viewer.

Book Review: Evelina: The History of a Young Lady’s Reentrance into My Life

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Here is a review of a much older book, a book, in fact, first printed in 1778 (goodness, this book is barely younger than my country!): Evelina by Frances Burney.  This is a book familiar to a number of this blogs’ potential readers as assigned reading from our 17th and 18th Century Literature class, and those same readers will probably know that I enjoyed this book enough the first time through to rescue it from resale on Half.com.  An epistolary novel of letters primarily between the young Evelina Anville and her guardian Rev. Villars, the letters tell of Evelina’s emergence from the country house of her childhood into society, the splash that she makes among the men there, and ends as so many of these novels do, with her marriage to a good man above her station.  The innocence of Evelina’s youth and the delicacy of her upbringing make her an apt lens through which Burney can critique the society—and the gentlemen—of the day.  Full of flowery language, plentiful flattery, and larger-than-life characters, those willing to wade to through the dense 18th century prose, will find a number of amusing though at times grotesque stories to delight as well as love-story worthy of the admiration that Jane Austen’s have received and a tragic family drama.

As enjoyable a second time around as the first, though I have never much been a fan of epistolary writing in general, Burney perhaps succeeds in the medium where more modern writers fail because of the ample letter-writing practice that I’m sure she received.  The letter is a dying art form in the wave of more immediate message-sending methods.  Here, the letters seems less forced than they frequently seem to me to be in other novels, and Burney does not struggle, as some writers seem to do, with how or whether to include details.  I have realized that this is another book like Austen’s where the reader is given very few descriptions of the characters, but the reader hardly notices the absence.  More frequently, Evelina describes in brief the clothes that characters have on (Burney reserves a particular distaste for the fop) than their physical appearance.  I think I would have to read the novel again with the intention of looking to discover whether even anyone’s build is stated.

What Evelina has that many of Austen’s characters do not is a truly horrific back-story upon which to found her entrance into society.  For that, Evelina is perhaps darker than most Austen novels, as Evelina must deal with cruelties that few Austen characters ever know.  It is early in the novel revealed that Evelina is the unacknowledged daughter of Sir John Belmont, who cast-off her mother, unlawfully annuling their marriage, and that she has been unlooked for too by grandmother, Madame Duval.

The first half, filled as it is, with balls and faux pas, I actually, romantic that I am, find less enjoyable than the last book, where both the romance and Evelina’s petitions to her father are more central and more emotional.  My least favorite is volume II, of which the grossness of Captain Mirvan or the Branghtons is a large part.  Though these characters serve as amusement and Burney’s command of dialect is impressive, some of the Captain’s tricks really are terrible.

****

Burney, Frances.  Evelina, or, The history of a young’s lady’s entrance into the world.  Ed. Edward A. Bloom.  New York: Oxford World’s Classics-Oxford UP, 2008.

This review is not endorsed by Frances Burney, those in charge of her estate, Edward A. Bloom, or Oxford University Press.  It is an independent, honest review by a reader.

Book Review: Habibi Well Deserves Its Title

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I read a review in an October TIME Magazine of the graphic novel Habibi (Arabic for “my beloved”) by Craig Thompson and was intrigued.  When I walked into the library last Thursday night and saw it there, after not finding any books by Brian Selznick, I decided to bring Habibi home with me.

I’m so glad that I did.

This book is amazing, worthy of every poetic line of praise from TIME’s Douglas Wolk.

Set in the future where pollution poisons the water supply, Habibi’s world has returned to an Arabia replete with the old stories and mythologies, slavery, sultans, harems, and jinns.  The story tracks two runaway slaves, Dodola and Zam, through their youth, then through their maturation into adulthood.  It is a story of loss, reunion, love, belief, the fight for freedom, and the search for identity and for a role in society and for family.

The book is an exploration of sexual identity, femininity, masculinity, humanity, history, the dystopian future to which we as a race are condemning ourselves, religion, the relationships between different religions and races, belief….  It explores the art forms that it indulges: word, storytelling, visual representation, silence and white space—dare I include “magic”?

As a graphic novel for adults, though mature teens might be able to claim it as theirs too, Habibi is heavy with philosophy, theology, sensuality, history, and mythology.  The story might benefit especially any seeking to understanding or struggling with their sexuality.  Among other issues close to the modern heart and mind, Habibi explores too the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity.  Raising questions and offering examples without drawing a conclusion, the religions are handled very well.

Though the artwork in this book is stunning in its complexity, in the merging of text and pattern, for which Islamic art is so famous, and form, the story more so than the art draws me into the tale.  Unlike Brian Selznick’s books, Habibi still pays homage to the comic books and manga from which graphic novels emerged rather than returning to the earlier picture books, as I would argue Selznick seems to do (but then Selznick’s graphic novels are also intended for children while Thompson’s is intended for adults or older teens, and comics and manga are for an older audience than picture books).  Habibi still, though, escapes the static block forms of comic strips, including full-page spreads and creatively shaped containers for the images, such as the eye that highlights Dodola’s eyes by which Zam recognizes her.  In that way, it is almost more creative than Selznick’s books, which mostly seem to contain full-page illustrations, much as many picture books have throughout history.

This is a book that contains a lesson for everyone, I feel.  In reading a number of reviews, as many themes have been most highlighted by each individual reviewer: from the interplay of pictures and words by Wold, to the castration of Zam by Marcus Nyahoe in his intriguingly named Breaking the Fourth Wall blog, and Robyn Creswell of The New York Times claims that it’s “a work of fantasy about being ashamed of one’s fantasies.”

I may have been able to get even more from the book if I were familiar with Arabic, words of which language grace many of the pages.

 *****

Thompson, Craig.  Habibi.  New York: Pantheon-Random, 2011.

This review is not endorsed by Craig Thompson, Pantheon Books, Random House, Inc., TIME Magazine, Time Warner, Inc., The New York Times, or any of the reviewers cited here.  It is an independent, honest review by a reader.

Book Reviews: Demigods in the Garden: The Game and The Titan’s Curse

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Spoilers abound for The Game and Percy Jackson and the Olympians.  I will not mark them; they are too many.

I bought The Game, a novella by Diana Wynne Jones, after hearing a paper (mentioned here) on the book as a character-based “prophecy arc” at the 2011 Children’s Literature Association Conference.  The premise of the book as presented sounded right up my alley, and, what’s more, I had already read all and enjoyed most of Jones’ The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, though I feel that the most recent installments of that particular series fall more flat than did earlier stories.

The Game lost a battle with Rick Riordan’s third book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians quintet, The Titan’s Curse.  My sister left Percy’s book lying in the open, and I stopped reading The Game mid-chase to finish The Titan’s Curse for who knows what time through.  But I think that reading these books simultaneously actually enhanced The Game rather than hurting it.

Published the same year, ironically, the books bare remarkable similarities.  They each feature a demigod who must journey to and enter the Garden of the Hesperides on a quest, then face the wrath of Zeus (or Jupiter in The Game), who unjustly hates the hero, thinking that he or she should never have been born and worrying that he or she might dethrone him because of a prophecy.  Both books prominently feature the tensions between demigod and god and Titan.  Both prominently feature the Hesperides.  Both low fantasies suggest that mythological figures are alive still and that they can be found in our own world, and both suggest too that the figures of the constellations existed.

As such, I had all of the parallel mythology of Percy Jackson tumbling through my mind as I finished The Game and the true lives of the mythological figures with whom she interacts are revealed to Haley, heroine of The Game.

The two stories differ in their quest, their villains, and the heroes, though, however similar the elements of the stories.

The two mythologies take a very different view of the gods and the Titans, the Titans being the primary threat in Percy Jackson and the gods the primary threat in The Game.

Unlike Percy, Haley’s quest is not for the benefit of civilization, order, or love, but a very personal quest for freedom, family, friendship, and fun.  Though the prophecy in which she features similarly threatens the gods and though her actions actually shake Olympus more so than Percy’s ultimately do, Haley is never weighted by her choices; in fact, it could be argued that her only choice is whom to trust rather than what to do (she defeats her enemy by doing as her friends tell her to), probably because Haley isn’t really given time to ponder the prophecy, nor, I would argue, does she ever accept it in the same way that Percy does.  Her fight seems less epic for that and because we have mostly others’ opinions to bolster our dislike of Jupiter in The Game, while five books build up our dislike of the Titans in Percy Jackson.  I wish I could claim outright that the differences in their battles have nothing to do with the gender of hero and heroine, but particularly Haley’s quest seems to me to take a very stereotypically gendered view of what is important and how to act.

***                         *****

Jones, Diana Wynne.  The Game.  New York: Firebird-Penguin, 2007.

Riordan, Rick.  Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Three: The Titan’s Curse.  New York: Hyperion-Disney, 2007.

These reviews are not endorsed by Diana Wynne Jones, Rick Riordan, Firebird, Hyperion, Penguin Group, or Disney.  They are independent, honest reviews by a reader.

Book Review: The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen May Be Not the Fairest of Them All, But It’s Still a Pretty Story

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I finished Delia Sherman’s The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen with some interesting insights into writing and into Harry Potter’s success, ironically.  In this sequel to Sherman’s Changeling, Neef, the girl stolen from her crib by the Folk of Central Park, is sent to Miss Van Loon’s School for Mortal Changelings.  School stories mean a huge cast, many of whom will interact in some way with the main character but who will also live separately and grow independently from the main character.  Here, I think, is where The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen was not as strong as I should have liked, and Harry Potter succeeds.  The carried over cast from Changeling are all strong characters with motivations, desires, and clear personalities.  The new cast of characters in The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen—Neef’s school friends—is not as strong as even the cast of Changeling was when introduced.  I feel, sadly because I very much want to love Sherman as a writer as much as I love her as a person, that Neef’s school friends exist as Neef’s entourage for the most part and largely not as individuals with their own stories and motivations.  In fact, they seem to have nothing to do but to help Neef in her quest, and I find that unbelievable.

Interestingly, in Changeling Sherman writes a large, lively cast, but this cast wander into the story and out of it.  They come in with what characteristics and details of their history that they need to illuminate in those moments that they share with Neef and Changeling, but do not need to be changed by their experiences or grow over time as do the students of Miss Van Loon’s in The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen.

This alerts me to the dangers of writing school stories.  It seems a genre that should not be attempted unless you can and do maintain a great number of living, breathing characters.  That here J. K. Rowling has succeeded magnificently makes me cheer Harry Potter.

Do these weaker characters earn The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen the condemnation it has received?  (It is no longer in print.)  Perhaps not.

The story, apart from those sidekicks, is an exciting one, and towards the end at least, Airboy emerges as a strong character to quest beside and breathe beside Neef.  The story is lighthearted fun, for the most part, though too it explores the dangers of fairy godparents’ expectations and meddling with powers that you don’t understand.  The book teaches acceptance of different people, different cultures, different subcultures without being too heavy-handed.  Sherman, a resident of New York City herself, well-captures its diversity and its attitude towards life.

The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen to analytical readers and writers explores the uses of, abuses of, reasons to break, and the reasons to follow rules—particularly in the fairy tale, though these lessons I think were stronger too in Changeling because Neef and Changeling less frequently challenged and more purposefully used the rules in that story.

Lovers of folklore will also enjoy the numerous, clever interactions of Folk of all countries.

***

Sherman, Delia.  Changeling, Book Two: The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen.  New York: Viking-Penguin, 2009.

This review is not endorsed by Delia Sherman, Viking Books, or Penguin Group.  It is an independent, honest review by a reader.

Book Review: Dragonquest: A Feminine Heroine’s Story

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Those who have been reading this blog since June will remember that I read Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight for class and that it left some interesting Threadscores on my brain, entering my dreams long after I’d thought that I’d finished with the book.  Dragonflight I fell asleep holding constantly and didn’t particularly enjoy.  With Anne McCaffrey’s untimely death, I decided to give the highly praised authoress a second try.  Foresighted enough to have bought a copy of Dragonflight that also included the second and third books of The Dragonriders of Pern, I went on to book two: Dragonquest.

Dragonquest held my attention far more raptly than did Dragonflight.  I’ve concocted two theories why:

  1. The assignment of Dragonflight happened to fall on a week when my body and my brain had just had it with work and felt that rest was far more important than any epic and brave quests to try and save the world of Pern from their newly returned enemy.
  2. Dragonflight’s heroine, Lessa, newly proclaimed Weyrwoman of Brenden Weyr is not the type of heroine to whom I readily relate.  She is too much of a warrior.

This second theory came to me upon reading Tamora Pierce’s reflections upon McCaffrey’s death.  Pierce, whose woman warriors I similarly have trouble relating to, lists Dragonflight but not Dragonquest among the most influential to her life of McCaffrey’s books.

Dragonquest deals less with Lessa and more with the Southern Weyrwoman Brekke.  Brekke is known for her gentle, restorative care and her management of the weyr, more, if I dare use the term, stereotypically assigned feminine qualities than Lessa’s fearless recklessness and stubbornness.  I relate personally more with Brekke, I think, than I do Lessa, better known, I think, and preferring to be known for the care I have for others than for some heroic and reckless deed, perhaps even unwillingly to risk my life as Lessa does in such an endeavor.  I might germinate the idea of such a quest, I might direct it from the ground, but I don’t feel that in her position I would likely have gone myself.  I am not a woman warrior; I avoid conflict as a rule and am far more likely to be found in the Lower Caverns, cooking, weaving, and tending the injured than dragon-back in a Thread Fall.  I appreciate the appearance of women warriors in literature and recognize their importance, but I’m glad too for the women less interested in fighting, more interested in stereotypically feminine pursuits, and I think we should be careful not to lose either from our libraries, for while those who do relate to the woman warrior might be more vocal, those of us who avoid fights are still here, still actively reading.

I prefer F’nor too, who is the hero of this second book and is more easy-going, less military in personality, to F’lar, especially in Dragonflight where his buoyancy and ability to joke with Lessa lightened the heaviness of approaching threat.

Minor characters like Felessan and Jaxom, whom I want to have their own short stories detailing their adventures (if such things exist, someone needs to tell me.  Note: this is Felessan and Jaxom without the contraction), and increased importance and complexity of Pernese politics further kept me interested in the plot of Dragonquest.

****

McCaffrey, Anne.  The Dragonriders of Pern.  New York: Del Rey-Ballantine-Random, 1988.

Dragonflight first published in 1968.

Dragonquest first published in 1971.

This review is not endorsed by Anne McCaffrey, Del Rey, Ballantine Books, or Random House, Inc.  It is an independent, honest review by a reader.

Book Review: The Hunger Games. More Than Favorable Odds: The Hunger Games’ Popularity Analyzed

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My friends at the Gwelsey Virus began with rules that, if broken, meant punishment for the rule-breaker. If any of my friends want to assign me a punishment, I will accept it. I am about to break the one rule I put in place for myself: that I kept things to 550 words or less.

This is the first review that I’ve written with the idea of getting it published somewhere other than this blog. I feel the writing is pretty tight, but it is over 1000 words long.  I just don’t know that I can trim that any further.  (If wants to offer a critique, do, because I haven’t submitted it anywhere yet.  Or if anyone knows where to submit reviews like this, I’d appreciate that even more.)  If I later find the energy to try, perhaps I’ll post the short review.

In the meantime, enjoy:

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Trilogy has been receiving a lot of critical and popular attention of late, probably at least in part due to Lionsgate’s announcement of a film adaptation of the popular YA, post-apocalyptic series’ first and title book due to be released in March 2012. I am, I know, late to the feast, so to speak. I only recently finished the first book, The Hunger Games.

Perhaps because of the hype that has been built up around this series, I found it at first disappointing. Within the first ten pages of text, I was terribly confused and put-off. I found the voice suffered from gender confusion. I was confused why two boys—Gale and Katniss—were discussing having children and why there seemed to be a definite implied “together” within that discussion, having heard nothing of a pro-homosexual aspect to The Hunger Games, something that is unlikely to be overlooked in discussions, popular or critical. Giving my mother a basic summary of the book, I turned to the back cover, looking for clues to the plot, and only then discovered that the main character, Katniss Everdeen, is in fact not male as her first person voice had led me to suspect, but female. Even discussion of her name in a pool of all the girls in District 12 did not wholly convince me of her gender, so seemingly male is Collins’ narrative voice.

I lamented this among friends, who wondered whether the gender confusion of Katniss’ voice was not intentional. I don’t know whether or not it could be. It is possible. Katniss, a trade hunter, has been playing a more stereotypically male role within her family for many years. She is the breadwinner and looks after the basic needs of her mother and sister in a stereotypically male fashion: by hunting in the woods and haggling for the best trade.

Eventually, I overcame the confusion I felt, though not without setting aside the book for some time and reading the whole of Rick Riordan’s The Throne of Fire and a large portion of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. I can’t name the exact moment that I decided to believe that Katniss was female; maybe it didn’t even happen within the text so much as within my head. Perhaps Katniss’ voice became more feminine as I journeyed deeper into the book. But either way, I emerged with an image of Katniss as strong, fiery, rebellious, independent woman, though I doubt that she will actually emerge from the series as a single, independent woman.

Like the Gamemakers and ranking officials of the Capitol in her world, Collins seems to very well understand that sex and violence sell (though the romance of the book stopped short of sex), and she used this to write a best-selling series. In fact, Katniss bears some resemblance to a stronger, more active Bella Swan (of Stephanie Meyers’ supremely popular Twilight series), unable to decide between two good men who love her and waffling over which she should love while believing herself unworthy of the attentions of either, unable to see her own apparent allure. I can’t really fault Collins for utilizing these proven money-makers, but it does seem a bit ironic that while she faults the Capitol for staging the Hunger Games, a death-match for entertainment of the Capitol citizens, for food for the winning district, and a reminder not to rebel against the current government, she uses a death-match to lure readers.

Perhaps because I came into the series knowing the basic premise, I was not as horrified as I could have been by the concept. That knowledge that I’m reading a work of fiction might also have factored into my less-than-terrified reaction. Still, I recognize what Collins is saying. The Hunger Games do read a bit like a season of Survivor where players are killed rather than voted off the island and the participants are children below the age of eighteen and the majority are unwilling victims. Perhaps a better analogy, though less current, is to a government-sponsored, publicly viewed reenactment of William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies.

Now, it’s time to admit it: Like so many others, once I was caught in the action, the book was a quick, capturing read. At several points, I was emotionally wrecked by the book, which is always high praise. I’m not sure that I was wrecked at the moments that I should have been, but Shakespeare proved years ago that audiences love a tale of star-crossed lovers. Those moments of doomed romance I found more compelling, more heart-rending than I did the deaths and descriptions of hunger, dehydration, poisoning, and oozing wounds. Further proving its merit, I left the book feeling that it was one that was going to take some sorting, that I was forced to think, but perhaps I merely missed the happy ending, which I ought to have known from the opening pages was not forthcoming.

At any rate, am I glad I read this book, beyond now having entered the conversation ringing in the halls of children’s literature criticism and popular culture? Yes, I think I am. The Hunger Games was far from the best book, technically or in terms of its plot, that I have read even recently (but then, I am reading Tolkien’s classic and few can really compare to that), but it was a book driven by questions of character, of plot, and of the future of our society that I think has made a lasting impression. Apart from Katniss’ voice of which I have still have my doubts, the majority of the characters were believable, though some were perhaps a bit overblown, like Haymitch, Effie Trinket, and Cato (who I wish was unbelievable). Collins has thought through characters’ motivations carefully and crafted a story that I think showcases the characters more than it does the situation and the plot, which I was not expecting in a post-apocalyptic tale. These seem like characters who will not quickly fade from memory, which when compounded with its exciting, peril-filled, anti-government plot, probably accounts for the series’ popularity as much as does Collins use of perennially and currently popular aspects of plot.

**

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008.

This review is not endorsed by Scholastic, Lionsgate, Suzanne Collins, the Capitol, or the Gamemakers. It is an independent, honest review by a reader.