Story Spotlight: The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Dark, gripping, and suspenseful. Suzanne Collins did a fantastic job of bringing out the dire and bleak nature of the world she created in The Hunger Games Trilogy. Such an incredible job, in fact, that I hardly noticed the wish fulfillment elements sprinkled throughout. I tend to look down on such plot devices in a novel, as I consider them writing crutches meant to pander to the audience’s unrealistic view on how they’d prefer life to be. But in this case, it wasn’t until the movies came out and amplified those elements that they really hit me.

What do I attribute this lack of observation to? While I’m willing to acknowledge the possibility that I simply overlooked those details by accident, I think it’s far more plausible that Collins’ writing style had me so engrossed that I didn’t notice the negative.

This seems far more likely, as I clearly remember being astonished at her skill by the third page or so. In fact, when I began the first book, I was immediately put off by the first person, present tense narrative. I found it jarring and distasteful. But just several pages in, the read was flowing breathlessly, and I was astonished that someone could work such an incredible story given such an awkward tense and person.

So, I copied her. The tense, at least. In Things Grak Hates, I gave present tense writing a serious effort for the first time in my life. Needless, to say, it was a challenge. But it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with that tense all over again.

In other words, I consider Suzanne Collins to be a fantastic storyteller. Perhaps her writing isn’t among the greats (I wouldn’t know or care), but her ability to weave an intriguing story certainly sets her above the crowd.

And it wasn’t just the first book that I was enamored with. As difficult as it may be to believe this, I was even more entertained by the second entry. It was probably due to the Quarter Quell. That the contestants were required to return made matters seem even more desperate, and desperation is an emotion Collins taps with expertise.

And while I’d give the series a five star rating as a whole, I would only give the third installment a 4.5. It was a suiting end to the trilogy, but felt somewhat forced in the whole concept of The Capitol being rigged the same as the arenas. Of course, the desperate and saddening nature was still quite vivid, so the book wasn’t hindered much in my mind.

5 stars out of 5

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