I should probably start out with mentioning that I’ve only read the first two books, the third one I’ve got lying around, but just haven’t gotten the motivation to read it. Not sure I ever will either, and here’s why.
There are a few good points about the book that gave it the merit in my eyes worth reading two out of three books in the series, but, there are also some marks against it. Now this is an opinion piece, I’m just going to forgo precursoring every bold statement with “in my opinion” from this point on since I understand opinions differ. I’ll start with the pros of the book.
The story was a little better than average—intense and intriguing. Suzanne Collins certainly did write a great lead character. Katniss is one of the more memorable characters in recent years, and one I feel will stay valid and cherished for a good lustrum to a decade more. Who knows, maybe even beyond that, but I doubt it. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I really wish there was more of an even balance between strong (emotionally), skillful, useful, intelligent male and female lead characters. I think literature is coming along, but still, it’s rare to see characters like Katniss.
Why does it even matter that we have female lead characters you might ask? Well, I guess for me, it all comes back to a lead character I knew and read about growing up. His name is Drizzt Do'urden. Let me tell you a bit about him. Actually, I’m going to be a bit lazy here and pull a quote from Wikipedia.
“The character has been a mainstay for author R. A. Salvatore, appearing in his novels for over 20 years. Drizzt is a drow who acts against the drow stereotype, favoring friendship and peace over hatred and violence. His unusual personality creates the conflict that allows Salvatore to create so many novels with stories about courage and friendship. Drizzt fights the dark traits that are inherent in the drow.”
That’s Drizzt in a nutshell. He’s a morally good guy in the midst of a whole civilization of evil. Eventually, he leaves his people in search for a more benevolent society, leaving the underground metropolis where he grew up, entering the surface world. This creates a bittersweet conflict. He bears the mark of his evil drow heritage (he’s an ebony colored elf) which strikes fear and hatred in the hearts of all goodly races on the surface. He is continually questioning his actions and beliefs while others are instantly judgmental of any move he makes. This combination results in a highly charged moral conflict that left me, as a teenager, questioning my own actions and moral alignment. Drizzt caused me to better myself and look deep inside to find what I was really doing with my life. He was a character that I looked up to. He was strong-willed and, though he didn’t always, he tried to do the right thing. Even though he made mistakes along the way, he learned from them and broke bad habits before they became detrimental to his righteous aspirations.
Drizzt changed my life. I related to him. I would hope for the same types of goodly role models for females—that help increase introspection, help develop a spiritual/moral attunement, creating a more whole person; in effect, the opposite of Effie Trinket. There just aren’t many strong lead characters in books for teenage, or adult, girls.
And is Katniss even that? Sure she is a strong lead female character, but does she inspire introspection into oneself, help develop spiritual/moral attunement, and help create a more whole person?
I'll pick up on themes and morals tomorrow.