Posts Tagged ‘Hunger Games’

How Reading Order Influences

So, last weekend, I was talking to a random person about scifi and fantasy authors, comparing things we’d read and suggesting new people and the like, and we had the following exchange.

Guy> Oh, {author} is like Philip K. Dick.

Kit> Ah! I like Philip K. Dick.

Guy> I find him highly derivative.

Kit> Really?

And he went on to say that he’d started with a lot of science fiction from the 1910s and 20s, which were a major influence on Philip K. Dick. Whereas Philip K. Dick was some of the first short scifi I read, so it read more original to me.

And that got me to thinking–each of us are directly influenced by the order we consume media in. The fact of the matter is that a lot of books (TV shows, movies, comics, etc.) are similar to other books (…etc.). And our perception of what came first or what is derived from something else is often directly based on the order we consume things in.

Let’s look at Power Rangers and Voltron, for example. Both involve a team of people who wear color-coded jumpsuits. Both involve aliens and robots and swords. Voltron technically came first, being an anime released in the mid-80s, but if you were a kid who watched Power Rangers and then found Voltron later, you’d say to yourself, “Oh, this is just like Power Rangers.” Never mind that it’s the other way around. You found Power Rangers first, and so Voltron seems derivative, even if intellectually you know it came first.

Another example of this is when some novel gets big and attracts readers that don’t normally read that genre. You get a ton of people who heap praises on that novel without knowing that it’s standard (or, in some cases, substandard) for that genre of novel. I’m going to use the Hunger Games as an example here. (Now, to clarify, I liked the first two books–and I think we talked about why the third was bad here, but if not, I will,  but it’s a good example of people reading genres they don’t normally.) I think we can all agree that the Hunger Games as a series brings nothing new to the dystopia genre. Yet, for people who were new to the genre and its tropes, it was amazing.

So, sure, you can sit there and say “Well, Battle Royale did the kids killing other kids thing first” but for people who started with the Hunger Games, that doesn’t matter. They didn’t experience things in that order.

What do you think, Squiders? Do you agree with me? Do you find that you compare things to what you experienced first, or are you able to separate things out intellectually?

Obligatory Hunger Games Post

I think this is required these days. You read the Hunger Games, either the first book or the entire trilogy (and/or read the synopses online or watch the movie) and make a thoughtful post about social commentary. Well, you’re not going to get that here. Best I’ve got for you is that I cannot name anyone Gale for the next five years.

(And a friend of mine said she’d name a son Peeta except it would be too obvious, so she said she’d name him Peter instead and pronounce it in a bad British accent.)

Anyway. I am not generally a trendy reader. I do eventually get to most runaway best sellers, sometimes even before their movies come out, but I generally let the hype go on for a bit before I bother unless it’s something that sounds extremely thrilling. I picked up Harry Potter right before Goblet of Fire. I read the Twilight series after the first movie was out. Da Vinci Code I was relatively early on, for me at least, though I read Angels and Demons first (and it is the better book, by far).

So, Hunger Games. YA dystopia. Dystopia can be very hit or miss for me. Sometimes you get ones where you feel like the author is smacking you over the head with their message. I dislike that. And, since it’s modern YA, it’s first-person present tense which I generally dislike a lot, but luckily Katniss is less annoying than most teenagers when you’re in her head.

Having read the whole trilogy now, I find myself trying to analyze why exactly it’s so popular. It has a lot of similar themes to other YA and YA dystopias I’ve read. That’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable, because I did like (most) of it, but it’s not on, say, Harry Potter levels of epicness. (I’m sorry, the plotting, foreshadowing, and characterization in the Harry Potter series is on a level of its own. I would like to grow up to be JK Rowling.) And, to be honest, Mockingjay is…not fun.

I know a lot of people who really hate Mockingjay, in fact. I can see why. The plot flows logically, but the main character is powerless for most of it, which makes the reader (in Katniss’s head) feel powerless, and most people don’t like that.

I think the strength is Katniss, honestly. She’s strong, self-sufficient, and while she does have the requisite love triangle going, it doesn’t consume her thoughts and she doesn’t act like an idiot over either boy. I’m not saying she reacts well to everything the trilogy throws at her, but, for the most part, she’s a positive role model and someone whose head I don’t mind being in.

So, hm. Would I reread the books? I don’t think so, at this point. I enjoyed the first two a lot, but I didn’t like the last one. Would I recommend them to friends? Sure, why not, especially if said friend doesn’t typically read science fiction.

I admit I occasionally spend some time trying to figure out what districts would be where. I think District 4’s got to be the gulf coast, and maybe District 7 is the Pacific Northwest? (Actually, from the description, it seems like the Capitol has to be, oh, Salt Lake City, or the general area, which makes me wonder if there’s some sort of social commentary about Mormonism going on, but that’s probably just in my head.)

What did/do you think about the Hunger Games, Squiders? I’ll go ahead and say spoilers are allowed in the comments, so beware if you haven’t read the books and intend to at some point.