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Monday, April 9, 2012

Emotional Reading

I'm a writer. The one thing I do want to do is evoke emotion. I want to tug at my reader's heartstrings. Perhaps have them walk away from my stories thinking and wondering about them. And characters? There is no bigger compliment than having someone tell me they couldn't stop thinking about one of my characters.

Well, this weekend I finished "The Hunger Games" trilogy and I've got to tell you, I'm less than happy. (*** NOTE: This will probably contain spoilers, so if you haven't read all three books and you're thinking about it, you may not want to continue reading ... just saying) I mean, okay, the premise itself is gruesome, but really that's kind of the point in the world Suzanne Collins created.

But the first book (which is what the current movie focuses on) the reluctant heroine is simply trying to make the best of a horrible situation and in the process begins a revolution against a controlling government that is long overdue. Every one of her actions is motivated by her need to survive. I could cheer for her and accept her actions even as she killed her compeitors. Why? because the author entangled my emotions and made me care about her and cheer her on to victory.

I LOVED the first book! The rest of the series ... not so much!

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I'm really angry with the direction of the story, the love triangle and ... the number of people (that I was rooting for) who didn't live to see the end of the revolution. I understand it's a war and people will die, but seriously ... everyone? I'm pissed. Disguested. Frustrated.

And in the end I'm no longer in love with the surviving characters. I really didn't even care if they survived. Now at this point I do have to clarify. I read primarily romance, all genres, but romance nonetheless. I'm not going to pretend the main characters don't walk off into the proverbial sunset. (Even if the villain has killed off several characters I loved along the way.) But I like it this way. "The Hunger Games" is not a romance. I get that. But a little feel good at the end would have been nice. This series has left me with raw, negative feelings.

And I'm wondering if that's a bad thing. The heroine, Katniss will definitely stay with me for a very long time. So did the author do her job? I'm not sure. I'm really mixed on whether I should congratulate her or set the books in the way, way back of my bookshelf never to see the light of day. I know I won't be going to see the movies if they make them. I did however absolutely have to finish the series even as the stories (in my opinion) ... completely fell apart.

What about you? Have you had this kind of reaction to a book or series? Do you think the author did his/her job or completely miss the mark?

20 comments:

Sandy said...

Nina, I wasn't interested in this series anyway, but I definitely wouldn't like the ending.

Sandy said...

Oops, forgot to say, I prefer happy endings.

jean hart stewart said...

Ugh. Haven't read the series and now don't want to. There's enough tragedy in the newspapers to make me want to enjoy what i read.

Paris said...

I know for a fact that I'm not the target audience for this author and have no desire to see the movie. I don't know if the point she was trying to make was that any overwhelming change has an overwhelming cost but from what I've seen of the discussions, but this is the idea/point that I've speculated.

That said, I think that any book that engages your emotions, whether you agree with the point the author was trying to make, the author has done their job.

Nina Pierce said...

Sandy - I didn't mean to say it's not good reading (at least the first book), but definitely not everyone's cup of tea.

And yeah, I'm all for the happy endings. LOL!

Nina Pierce said...

Jean - LOL! I think that's where I was going as well. Too much other stuff happening in the world to walk away from a book and be sad.

Nina Pierce said...

Paris - I have to agree. This author definitely had me laughing and crying and now mulling over these emotions so she definitely has done her job and made the stories memorable.

And the target audience? I know it's young adult, but sheesh, there's so much tragedy. I'm not sure how I'd feel if my 12 y/o read these stories or saw the movies. I'm glad I don't have to worry about it.

Nina Pierce said...

Sandy - I didn't mean to say it's not good reading (at least the first book), but definitely not everyone's cup of tea.

And yeah, I'm all for the happy endings. LOL!

Carrie Ann Ryan said...

I'm with you there. I read this books going "OMG I feel worse about myself now"

I cried like a baby and didn't want anyone to live at the end. Even the "happy ending" wasn't happy.

It was just depressing.

But, alas, I wasn't their audience either.

Natalie G. Owens said...

I know that kind of book. I started one once by an author I know personally and I had to tell her that I just couldn't read past the first page. My heart was already broken then. But the author is published with a big name publishing house. Re The Hunger Games - I wasn't interested in reading it (young adult fiction - seriously???), and now, after reading this, I'm even less inclined to do so.

Adele Dubois said...

I'm almost finished reading the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy, so I didn't read your full post because of the spoilers, Nina. When I finish, I'll go back and read your comments, since I don't intend to read all three books in the series.

Since the author's idea for the book started with the TV show Survivor and germinated with news about the war in Afghanistan, all I can say is, "Wish I'd thought of that!" I've watched every episode of Survivor since Season 2. :Sigh:
I have to admire Ms. Collins imagination.

Best--Adele

Nina Pierce said...

Carrie Ann - But if we felt that way as adults then doesn't it make you wonder how the young adult audience is handling the stories?

Nina Pierce said...

Natalie - I do think I have to go back through and read other reviews of these books. I'm so curious how those that loved the whole series explain their love of the ending.

Nina Pierce said...

Adele - I had heard the same thing about her inspiration for the series. And don't all authors want to come up with something so VERY different. I definitely have to give her credit for that!

Firetulip said...

I bought the first book in these series for my 8 yr old and the book store clerk gave me a third degree how the book is too violent or in her words; in-your-face kind of violence. I read a few pages and I have to admit I had a hard time getting into it. The first person narrative didn't bother me, I think it was the present tense. I never read a book written in present tense (other than toddlers picture books)so I found that strange. My son loves it and he says it's not all that violent, but then he plays all those computer games full of blood and gory like "Call of Duty Blackcops" or something don't ask me. Now, onto the topic of series in general. Other than The Lords of the Ring, The Lyonnese, The Hyperion and those big names authors, all of the series seem to follow the same trend. The first book is hard to put down, you pick next in the series and get a mild to moderate disappointment then the next one leaves you totally baffled and if there's the next one, I usually don't end up finishing it. That's been my experience.

Nina Pierce said...

Firetulip - The first person present tense is very odd. There were several times it pulled me out of the story. But the story of the first book was so compelling I couldn't put it down.

And I tend to agree with you, there have been a couple of series where subsequent books didn't measure up to the beginning of the series.

Liz said...

I was sick of the first person POV and her whining by the end. That's the problem with that POV for me. I get sick of the narrator.
but over all I enjoyed the story.
I felt SO strongly about a different YA series, Chaos Walking that has also been optioned for a movie, and the book The Fault In Our Stars...holy mother of stay up all night and cry batman..and I am NOT easily emotionally manipulated by a book. this one however, will not let me go.

Liz said...

I was sick of the first person POV and her whining by the end. That's the problem with that POV for me. I get sick of the narrator.
but over all I enjoyed the story.
I felt SO strongly about a different YA series, Chaos Walking that has also been optioned for a movie, and the book The Fault In Our Stars...holy mother of stay up all night and cry batman..and I am NOT easily emotionally manipulated by a book. this one however, will not let me go.

Nina Pierce said...

Liz - There is nothing like an emotional read. I'll definitely have to check this one out. Thanks for the recommendation.

Allie H said...

Nina, I just finished reading all three and although I enjoyed the 2nd more than the others, I also found the ending to be emotionally raw and rather unsatisfying. I questioned the idea of it being a young adult from the beginning and still don't understand why it was picked up as a Scholastic book and is being promoted by schools.

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