My second disappointing book experience this summer was...
Okay, it wasn't actually The Hunger Games, book 1. It wasn't even Catching Fire, book 2. It was really...
Let me start from the beginning. I had heard a bit of buzz about this series, and found that they were on sale as a three-book bundle in the Kindle store. So I went ahead and made my purchase. I have to say, I really loved The Hunger Games. In fact, it's a good thing that the Kindle allows me to read one-handed, because I pretty much walked around holding it in front of my face for two days. For those of you who haven't read the series, it's based on a futuristic world called Panem, where twelve districts (formerly thirteen) serve a corrupt and gluttonous Capitol. Each year, for the enjoyment of the Capitol, the districts are required to send one girl and one boy, chosen by lottery (in a scene very similar to Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery") to the Hunger Games. They are released into an arena where they have only two objectives: to survive the environment, and to be the last one alive.
The main character, Katniss, is exactly the kind of main character a science fiction series needs: unique yet relatable, strong on her own yet emotionally connected to others. The world of pain and emotional torture Suzanne Collins devises is incredibly imaginative and yet easy to envision. I spent most of the book honestly wondering if Katniss was going to survive the arena, even though I knew there were two more books to come.
I was slightly less in love with Catching Fire, book 2, but I did spend the following two days in the same nose-to-Kindle position.
Where Suzanne Collins lost and disappointed me was in Mockingjay, the final book of the series. For those of you who are interested in reading the series (and I do still recommend this, because of the first two) I won't give out any spoilers. But I will say that Katniss became a completely different character to me: whiny, weak and frustrating. All of her former strength seems to disappear in the face of very similar adversities. Collins seems to be showing us through Katniss's actions and choices that the girl is now insane, but she doesn't think like an insane person. Moreover, the plot is not nearly as clearly laid out as in the first two books. The story jumps around a lot, and Katniss, who is the point-of-view character, misses some crucial action, namely a certain rescue scene that is a major plot point. There are some scenes that just need to be described, not glossed over.
As always, if you disagree, feel free to comment. If you haven't read them, I still think the first two are well worth the read, and the third as well, if only because a series should be finished. Even if "Return of the Jedi" was terrible, people would still watch it to see what happened to Han and Luke and Leia. (Of course, it is not terrible. It is, in fact, the best of the three. All Hail George Lucas.)