Last night I saw Catching Fire with my brill friends Kirsten and Justin (they have great BookLikes pages, too!). For just the second time in my life, I'm finding that I liked the movie version better than the book. The first time was The Graduate, because the book read like a screenplay and it was better to see Dustin Hoffman deliver the lines. The same feels true here.
Throughout The Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins's writing is notably subpar.
I may never recover from this Hunger Games line from Katniss, "I avoid looking at anyone as I take tiny spoonfuls of fish soup. The saltiness reminds me of my tears." The writing is a mess, but the concepts are killer.
The framework is there, but the method of delivery doesn't translate particularly well in its original form. The books feel like they should have come after the films, as a kind of bonus transmedia tie-in. In the films, the characters have more depth, motivation, and pathos than they ever did in the novels.
I'm not sure what to make of this. Do you think it matters? I'm glad the books exist and that, cringe-inducing as they may be, I can revisit them and experience the story in its novelized form. But the quality of the writing is insulting, especially given the target audience. Teenagers are capable of consuming high quality narratives; to assume otherwise is misguided at best.
I love The Hunger Games. I truly do. I think there are important layers of cultural commentary. These books have sparked interesting conversations amongst my friends and family. (i.e.: my older sister would not hesitate to volunteer in my place but I honestly think I lack the gumption to do the same.) I'm glad these books have given me those interactions. I still wish they were better. What do you think?