Saturday, March 24, 2012
I feel toward this book and its subsequent adaptation the way I do about Jurassic Park: both have amazing conceits and advantages unique to each form of the story, yet neither fully succeeds. The film cuts a lot of the book's waffle, but it fails to further develop, or even just reflect, the book's lack of celebration in the Games and its disgust with the waste of life to sate the rich and maintain order. On the flip side, Collins' longer novel utterly fails to clarify the layout of her imagined world, and her use of first-person perspective seems a way to avoid having to define anything outside Katniss' narrow experience. The excess of the novel has barely anything to do with character or environment, instead wasting pages on useless anecdotes, even in the midst of the games where Katniss' survival instincts are momentarily cast aside to let her dreamily reminisce.
Nevertheless, the book's worth reading for Katniss, who pushes back strongly against the "Bella-fication" of young female characters. Collins does give in to a vague love triangle, with Katniss thinking of her friend Gale and dealing with Peeta's maybe-not-so-fabricated-as-it-seems infatuation with her in the arena, but her concern for both boys comes secondary to her independence and willpower. I'm sad that I found an only marginally more interesting world in the text than I did in the film, but I imagine I'll keep reading to see more of this striking character.