The Hunger Games: Wrong Perspective?

In preparation for watching the movie, I went ahead and reread (ok, more like frequently skimmed) all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy (Suzanne Collins, if you haven’t heard).

I wasn’t a fan of the second two the first time I read them, and this reread made me more sympathetic towards the second book, but I still don’t like the third book. Not because of the ending or even most of the events, but because the structure didn’t work for me. Collins is at her best when she’s writing action sequences–at least when Katniss is the narrator–and dumping that girl into the middle of a bigger conflict that required both finesse and strategy doesn’t work because that’s not who Katniss is.

Especially since there are a lot of useful insights that would have made the third book better. I wanted to be in the command center or otherwise behind the scenes finding out what everyone else made of having such an oblivious symbol of the revolution.

Which brings me to the point that I don’t think it’s possible to write a good trilogy and keep it to a limited first person perspective, at least not if that person isn’t always at the center of everything. And I’m specifying trilogy, not series, because that limited perspective works fine for Charlaine Harris. Her books, though sequential, aren’t set up with an overarching plot that is going to encompass everything in mind. They’re actually about Sookie’s adventures.

As far as Katniss goes…she’s got severe PTSD, let her suffer in peace! Yes, it’s a real thing and not putting it in would make her less human, but it’s hard for a reader to sit through pages and pages of a fictionalized version of a real disease, especially when that’s a substitute for events rapidly moving forward in the background with her knowledge.

Anyway, what do you think? Should Collins have written the sequels to ‘The Hunger Games’ in third-person or someone else’s first-person perspective? Or was building that much rapport with Katniss part of her success?

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10 thoughts on “The Hunger Games: Wrong Perspective?

  1. I think it is true that writing that way is hard for a trilogy, especially one like that. The third book was not my favorite, but I actually love the 2nd book the most.

    The issue is, the first book wouldn’t have been as amazing, if we had multiple perspectives. We’d get a break from the running for your life that Katniss does. So the first two books really require us to be solely in Katniss’ head.

    I think the third book should have also kept that requirement. Instead, we could have followed a great number of people, and really seen more than Katniss did.

    I’m just not sure that, given that the first two books did not need any other perspectives, that adding them in the third one might be a little jarring/off putting to the reader.

    • Never change the first one :O –it’s awesome just the way it is.

      Yeah–I think the solution for the third book would have been to put it in first person of someone who’s close to Katniss throughout (personally, Gale would have worked best). Yes, it’s surprising. But it allows her to continue the character insights she’s good at, and the places he was at were a lot more pivotal for what ended up happening…. The one series I’ve seen that does a perspective shift is Patricia Wrede’s ‘Dragons’ series. The fourth one is in first person (the first three did limited third person, and each time the person was different). It was weird, but it made sense.

      The second one was fine because it was more Hunger Games, but the second time around I wasn’t as awestruck by the sheer brutality. I would have preferred to see what was going on behind the scenes, and why not everyone was rescued. Also, what was Haymitch doing?? Aaah.

      • I think I preferred the 2nd one because we knew more about the participants. Sure watching children die was awful, but I didn’t know them as well, so I cared less. That moment where the victors hold hand on the stage and beg for the president to reconsider, is haunting.

        I think the answer to the third one, was to make Katniss more integral. Granted this ruins the idea that she is constantly being inserted as a symbol of something she is not really a part of, but it would have cleared things up. I like Gale, but I’m not sure he’d be a very interesting narrator. He seemed kind of….concise.

        In the 2nd movie we’ll get to see what others were doing, which is exciting. I assume Haymitch was trying to keep them alive, while simultaneously preparing for his escape to 13.

      • Ooh–there’s definitely that. Also Wiress and Beetee were awesome in a completely different way, instead of being all raw and physical everywhere.

        Yeah, she’d have to make Gale a person who thinks a lot and says little He’s pretty intelligent so I think it could be plausible, but it would have to be very careful.

        I know, right?! Especially…how did he manage to get a hold of all those victors. Man, I would love to know what Haymitch thought about the events of the second.

      • I’m surprised we never got a confessional from Haymitch about that, but I guess…they were busy.

  2. I think the first two books work from Katniss’ perspective, but agree that in the third book it becomes a bit much. She is so damaged that she becomes an unreliable narrator, which makes it hard for me to buy into the emotions that are obviously present. Still a fan of the series, but those you make some very apt critiques.

  3. Changing the viewpoint to another character might have worked (I’ve said before I though Prim would have been a good choice for this), but changing the perspective would have been disastrous. Going from first person to third person breaks the voice of the story and jars readers. It’s akin to flipping the genre 180 through the series, from a horror/thriller to a western/romance.

    As far as writing trilogies Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber is comprised of two series, five books each that does both. It maintains first person throughout all ten books and switches the main character half-way through, closing out each mini-series. Besides great prose (from what I remember), his books are engaging. While I recommend them to anyone, be warned. He died before he finished the series.

    • Hm, makes sense. She had a lot of options for the second and third books, I think. (I vote Haymitch for the seconf and Gale or Prim for the third.)

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