Just Call Me Elaine Who Couldn’t Understand The Appeal Of The English Patient. Because That’s Me When It Comes To The Hunger Games.

Just call me Elaine. From Seinfeld. You know, the episode when she just doesn’t understand all the hoopla around The English Patient.

I don’t get the frenzy around The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I wanted to like it. I truly did. It was our book club’s latest pick and I really wanted to be able to go to the next meeting and contribute. I started it. I re-started it. I resorted to skimming. But I hated it. Meanwhile, everyone is “replying to all” and saying “Don’t you just love this month’s pick?” and “I stayed up until 4am to finish it. I couldn’t put it down!” and “I’m already finished with the second one in the series!”

There’s more?

You’ve got to be kidding me.

The premise of the book centers around a post-apocalyptic world in which a boy and a girl, ages 12 – 18, are chosen by lottery from each of the surrounding 12 districts to compete in a fight to the death televised event in which there may be only one survivor. Oooooo. A futuristic novel where the life of a human being is no longer valued. Death and destruction become entertainment. The joy of the primitive hunt.

Been there. Done that.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

The Long Walk by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King.)

The Running Man starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Loosely based on the book of the same name by Stephen King under his pseudonym Richard Bachman.)

The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell.

And in my research, I discovered the book is deemed eerily similar to the Japanese cult franchise, Battle Royale by Koushun Takami , so much so that fans of Battle Royale are crying plagiarism.

A young adult novel about mass murder as entertainment. And a society that stands for it? Call me Pollyanna, but I’m uncomfortable with a novel that involves prostitution, sadistic torture, encourages suicide and murder and calls itself a young adult novel. I realize it is fiction. And I know the readers of the novel realize this, too. But as far as I could tell, there were no moral lessons learned other than survival will be paramount in the distant future. But why? It’s not a world I would like to live in.

And then there was the mass email that said, “The movie is coming out this month! We should all go! Let’s plan on it!”


How do I get out of that one?



Filed under Books

12 responses to “Just Call Me Elaine Who Couldn’t Understand The Appeal Of The English Patient. Because That’s Me When It Comes To The Hunger Games.

  1. gaelicpearl

    Hey Jane, this might sound strange but as someone who has read all the books and loved them (well the first two at least) I’d say you’ve reacted to the novel exactly as you were supposed. The premise of children having to battle each other to the death as entertainment is shocking, there is no doubt about it – and that is the point of the book. The series is about how wrong this society is and about fighting to change it – rebellion against the Hunger Games eventually becomes Katniss’ goal which then grows into a rebellion against the whole of the unjust government and society.
    Interestingly, I’ve also heard it talked about as an allegory for the Vietnam War – young adults being randomly selected by a government to go and fight in a senseless battle that ultimately leaves them either dead or unable to continue as members in society – which if nothing else gives it an interesting dimension as a children’s story.
    Hopefully your next book club book will be more to your taste! Happy readings. 🙂

  2. Oh no!!! I LOVE The Hunger Games…but I did absolutely detest The English Patient.

  3. The the Seinfeld clip! I have to say, I hated The English Patient. Read it, watched the film, and still didn’t like it. For the Hunger Games, it took me a while to get into it. I kept picking it up then putting it down. Finally, I sat down and read it. I do like the heroine of the story, and it reminded of 1984 or The Giver. Put the book down and pick it back up later. I can guarantee it is so much better than The English Patient! 😉

  4. I had forgotten about Elaine and The English Patient. I didn’t dislike The Hunger Games and have read all three. I am, though, astonished by the age of some children reading them. My daughter heard about a friend’s fifth grade class reading the first novel. I just don’t see these books as appropriate for that young a child.

    I also felt the novels were eerily similar to Frank Herbert’s Dune series.

  5. Sounds like me with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo- my friends read it, saw the movie, loved it. I tried reading it, couldn’t get into it, and quit. I bowed out of seeing the movie. I get looks from them, like “how could you not like it, it was so great!”. I reply “each to his own”. They are kind, they allow me my opinion. Hunger Games? Nah, think not. Not my idea of a good time.

  6. I hated “The English Patient.” And I hated “Eat, Pray, Love,” another book enjoyed by almost everyone else.

    I was drawn almost kicking and screaming to read “The Hunger Games.” Futuristic sci-fi? Not for me. And I didn’t read teen genre when I was a teen! Since most of the movie was filmed in my county I felt obligated to give it a try. I was sucked immediately into the story. The writing is average but I found the story fascinating. It’s an easy read and I read it in two days only because I forced myself to put it down the first day. That said, I do not feel compelled to read the others in the trilogy and I don’t plan to see the movie.

    Our town has gone crazy with ways of making money from the film. “Hunger Games” tours and games are advertised everywhere. A lot of the film action took place along one of our favorite trails. But we won’t be going on that trail again until at least November. Thank goodness it is in a State Forest and no signs will be allowed.

    • I actually enjoyed “Eat, Pray, Love” ….that is, until I found out it was a contrived “self-discovery” trip financed by a publishing company so she could turn her experiences into a for profit book, hopefully movie.

  7. I read and enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy (although I was completely done in by the violence by the end of the third book and wonder how it’s going to translate to the screen).

    Like Carol, I totally didn’t get the hype surrounding Dragon Tattoo. Another big “Huh?” moment for me recently was The Help. Everybody kept telling me how much they loved it and I just didn’t.

    To each her own, I suppose!

  8. You have a perfect right to your opinion, but I do disagree with the ‘been there done that’ objection – judged on that basis, EVERYTHING is derivative. There’s not a whole lot, if anything, that hasn’t been treated in fiction. I’ve read or seen all the other titles you mentioned, and I think the Hunger Games does add something to the theme. And I disagree with your conclusions about the book’s moral lessons also. I appreciated the fact that Katniss was an extremely reluctant figurehead for a revolution – she really wasn’t out to change the world, just to improve the lot of her family. I didn’t think the book or the trilogy were perfect, and I always wince at the hype that builds up around ‘publishing phenomena’, but I also don’t see the value in rejecting something solely because it is overly hyped, without evaluating it on its own merits (I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing here).

  9. I heard the premise and knew I wouldn’t like it and have no intention of reading any of them or seeing the movie. I don’t think we all have to like the same stuff. Same with Girl with a Dragon Tattoo…which was VERY difficult to get into…I ended up really liking that book but I had to get through 1/2 of it before it held my interest…and I couldn’t get into the second one at all, which disappointed me. I have no intention of seeing those movies either. If you gave it a shot and really didn’t like it…then that’s that. No apologizes needed. And no need to see it on the big screen either.

  10. I don’t plan to read the books or see the movie at all. The premise about children hunting children just isn’t something I can stomach. A friend of mine said the first book/movie is the tamest and then they get darker and more violent. Pass.

  11. I liked it. But I get what you’re saying. My mom just told me she would like to see the movie with me, and I responded, “But mom, you don’t like sci-fi or action films!” Any ways, a couple years ago, I stated a meme with another blogger about books we hated but every one liked, and it was tons of fun, and I’m thinking of doing it again. Soooooo . . . now you’ve got one book ready for the list 😉

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