I don’t usually critique books but I’m going to make an exception. A friend just ‘came out’ about not liking a certain sensationally popular TV series so I felt compelled to share that I did not like this book.
I know, I know. Page after page of blogs, EW reviews, and more all think it’s Awesome! Compelling … Utterly readable … Etc. And it’s eating at me because the reviews aren’t written by a 12-18 year old, you know, the actual YA audience. Though I’m considering asking my daughter to post her review – it’s a very different take.
Now – please read this before you start typing arguments or explaining how I didn’t get it or how I misunderstood the writer … or whatever. And be warned - Spoilers follow!!!
Here’s the thing. I liked the book fine. A solid read – sure. A great read – possibly.
BUT it’s NOT Young Adult.
Collins is a talented author. I enjoyed the books. The characters did what they needed to do for survival. And you counted on Collins to make it right in the end because her readers are children 12-18. But she didn’t.
As an adult, it was gripping, thought-provoking and troubling.
As the mother of a 13 year old who loved these books, it was something entirely different.
Kids this age are impressionable. Most of them read to escape. They might be reading edgier books, but most YA does have and end with a sense of safe parameters or redemption (however hidden they might be).
But this book ends with war raveged Katniss, adrift, disoriented, mentally broken and grappling to find some sense of peace or ‘right’ after everything endured.
As an adult, I’m fine with that. I love dystopian – it’s one of my favorite genres.
But, in my opinion, Collins was irresponsible. She holds the psyches of her readers in her literary hands along with that of her fictional heroine. I hope that most of the kids that read it will blaze through it without letting the confusing message (people are more often than not bad, have selfish or questionable motives, and the good guy doesn’t always win or stay healthy or sane) chip away at the already fragile psyche that today’s YA readers have.
Kids need heroes. They need Hope – look at Twilight and Harry Potter. THAT’s why they were so successful. There was a Happily Ever After Even though the characters went through excruciating situations. There was that promise of Hope and Peace. Collins, Katniss, and her YA readers, didn’t get that.
My complaint isn’t about the book. I thought the 3rd was the weakest, the characters weren’t true to the previous stories. But I refuse to go back and read through it again to find something to ‘suggest’ more emotion and fulfillment than is actually written there.
My complaint is that this final book (preceded by such heavy struggles, death, violence, gore, sacrifice and pain) DIDN’T validate what Katniss, Peeta, Finnick (weep), or Prim (inevitable but cruelly handled) went through. Not for the 12-18 year old reading this. And they need more.
The world, with it’s stark realism, will find and infiltrate them soon enough. The worlds in their books should provide them with challenges while still providing Hope and Peace.
I can not recommend these books for their intended audience. It’s too much for YA.
Adults – enjoy.