Thursday, March 15, 2012
I loved the series. It's not super deep or profound or intricately written, it's just really good entertainment. Jaimie was right, the third book is not as good as the first too. It was a little like watching the final season of Lost. The writer would develop a plot line and you'd think you're heading into a major event, and then Katniss is shot or knocked out or something, wanders around disoriented and angsty for a while, and you're right back where you started. I did like that it took a black and white story and added some moral complexity, because that mirrors reality. Are the good guys really good and trustworthy? Is the rebelling society really going to be better than the one you are rebelling against? Also, actually spending time developing the character of Gale was good, because he's just a vague figure in the first two books and you're never able to accurately compare Gale and Peeta. Unfortunately, Gale's developed character kind of sucked.
I was really fascinated by the character of Katniss and her relationships. Generally immensely popular characters like this both form and reflect trends in our society. I think the form heroines take in young adult literature says a lot about the way women are raised to think. Some of that is good - there is no need for a male character to come and rescue the girl for her to be happy and meaningful. On the other hand....
Katniss is portrayed as generally a stronger character than the male leads. She's smart, strong, a leader, and in the end, usually the winner. She's certainly portrayed as superior to Peeta, although Peeta has a good heart. I know there are still rampant problems in our society today with inequality in the treatment of women, we're also beginning to see the other side. I've seen workplaces and marriages and now scores of young women (and the YA literature that reflects them) that truly do generally think that they (the women) are smarter and more capable than the guys around them. Not equal. Better. Swinging from inferiority to superiority in this next generation won't do either side any good. The truth is that Katniss is actually an extremely selfish character that is gifted but very emotionally wounded and guarded. I hope she isn't the ideal that our girls want to be like.
Katniss sort of likes two guys in the story, and we readers have all divided over whether we're on Team Peeta or Team Gale (Team Peeta!!). Thing is, she doesn't trust either one of them. She never lets her guard down to truly love either one. She has to be self-sufficient. She never admits to loving either one unless they are dying, never when they are there to actually exist in a mutual relationship. I think this reflects what girls today perceive. They need to be self-sufficient. They shouldn't NEED relationships. They can enjoy the benefits of them, but never fully let their guard down.
The readers are wooed by the devotion of both guys to the woman that they love and will do anything for, even die to protect. They are at her beck and call, both just waiting for her to decide who she will choose. And this supposed to end up in a healthy relationship? I think this is the classic problem in chick stories today. The narrative is that we are pursued at any cost by a man who will change completely in order to win our hearts (that's one thing I like about the Gale and Peeta characters. They're waiting for her, but they're not changing for her. They are who they are). The problem with pursuit concept is that it never portrays an equal relationship or loving compromise. I think our young women are actually told never to compromise lest they lose their rights or miss the ideal that they deserve. End result: relationships based on a constant power play and women feeling useless when the "pursuit" stage of the relationship has passed.
I haven't read the Twilight series, but from what I hear, much of this is true in that series as well. Am I onto something or am I off track?