Monday, September 13, 2010

The Hunger Games

So I finished reading The Hunger Games this weekend. Wow. What a plot. What a character.

There were several things that struck me about this book. The first and probably the most obvious strength of this book is the pacing. Suzanne Collins has a unique ability to clutch the readers attention with her words and make it nearly impossible to put this book down. One thing she does that is especially compelling is to break her chapters up at a moment when it would normally be least expected. Her cliffhangers are unequaled by anything I've read recently. As a father with a day job I no longer have time to read books in one sitting. But I came closer with this novel than I have with any of late.

I don't have time to go on about this book forever but one other thing I would like to point out about Suzanne Collins is her writing. It's not simple, exactly, but I think the term direct describes it well. I've gotten some feedback recently about my own writing which basically has clued me in to how much I overwrite when it comes to description and setting a scene. Suzanne Collins does not have that problem. Of course she is writing for a YA audience, so there is that to consider but even as an adult I find her writing to be perfect for her subject matter. She does not use long sentences and tends to get right to the action. She occasionally spends some times describing something like an outfit the characters are wearing but there is a plot related reason for this that I won't go into for spoiler reasons.

Here is one quick example of a sentence from The Hunger Games that I thought said SO much with SO FEW words:

... she gives me a nod, and as she slips a spoon into my hand, I feel the pressure of friendship.

Even though I'm sure most of you have read it I'm not going to ruin it for others by sharing the context in which this occurred, but I will say that it would have most likely taken me several sentences to get that point across. I'm going to try to be more concise as I continue to re-write WARRIOR-MONKS.

In other news my new found friend and blogger buddy Jared Larson has a wonderful plan for an interview with one of my favorite people. He intends to do it soon but not until he has a certain amount of followers. I'm not giving anything else away but I will say please go visit this guy's blog and follow him! I want to read this interview!

Thank you. That is all.

48 comments:

Emily White said...

I just recently read the book as well, and you're right; the pacing is spectacular.

Suzanne Collins definitely has a way with words.

Vicki Rocho said...

Still a hold out. LOL. Not sure how much longer. At least the series is complete now so if I do start it I won't have to wait a year for more!

A. Grey said...

You know what I love the most about Suzanne Collins? Even if I HATE the book (which I didn't) I'd still love the way in which it's written. She's like Stephen King. I'd buy a grocery list to read if either one of them wrote it. :)

Jess said...

I just got MOCKINGJAY and can't wait to devour it. This is the most excited I've been about a series in a long time :) Thanks for posting about one of my new favorites!

Christine Fonseca said...

Part of what I love about her writing is the way she weaves words together, keeping it complex and oh so simle at the same time! Loveit.

Candyland said...

You're silly, Tim. She is a fantastic pacer. If only I could do it that well...wait that started to sound dirty so I'll just end this conversation now...

Em-Musing said...

OK, OK, OK! I can't stand not knowing any longer. I'm going to buy her books and see what everyone's been chatting about.

salarsenッ said...

Great points, Matt. Pacing is so important. I'm with you. I need to be more concise with what I want to say and just say it 'already'. lol

Lisa of In Pencil said...

I’m hesitant about Hunger Games. Series that become a huge phenomenon are often lost on me (Harry Potter, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.). It’s like I’m so tempted but I’ve been down that road before and have been so disappointed.

Renae said...

I loved this trilogy and you are so right, the pacing is dead on and Suzanne has spun this series so it is nearly impossible to put down.

DEZMOND said...

You are probably happy that the book is being turned into a film.
HUNGER GAMES were published in my country by my own publisher, but I didn't work on its translation.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I finished Mockingjay this weekend. I wish I could write half as well as Suzanne. I'm so jealous of that sentence she wrote. Why can't I write like that? *pouts*

Hannah Kincade said...

I have not read the series but it's on the list. I love a good cliffhanger and I love direct, concise writing. That's why I lurve Jonathan Carroll. He paints a basic yet mindblowing image every time. LURVE HIM.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Okay, let's see if blogger lets me comment now...

I love The Hunger Games series. I tend to re-read sections when I feel like I'm over writing/describing. If I could be half the writer Suzanne Collins is I'd be thrilled. ;)

aspiring_x said...

hooray! i'm glad you liked it!!! are you going to start on Catching Fire next? :)

Geoff said...

I was totally enthralled with The Hunger Games but felt Catching Fire was overall a real let down. I really felt Katniss lost some of her spark (and intelligence) and the story put too much emphasis on its romantic love triangle subplot.

Still it was an okay read and I'm really looking forward to Mockingjay.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't read young adult books, but I do prefer those that move along quickly without long descriptions.

Dawn said...

I absolutely loved the Hunger Games. Collins is a very talented writer - her format is difficult to do, I think, but she makes it look effortless. I've been holding off on book two mostly because I don't want to be let down - second books aren't always as great.

C.E. said...

She is amazing.
I think it takes more talent to write short, concise, and as oh-so-crazily-spell-binding words as she does than to write a bunch of fluff. I over-write too but have gotten better about it lately. Takes practice.

Melissa Gill said...

This is one of those series that's just impossible to explain. It's beautiful in its simplicity, but so raw in its premise. I think what made it great for me was that I felt a part of the story from word one. I never felt like I was reading a book. When I finished Mockingjay, it was like being dumped back into reality again. Boo hoo! It took me a couple of days to get over it.

Christina Lee said...

Yeah *sigh* so glad the series is on my bookshelf and I can go back again and again. She is definitely an inspiration!

Falen (Sarah) said...

the pacing is out of control in that book. I'm like you and ALMOST finished it in one sitting (damn work *grumble grumble*)

Justine Dell said...

I've never read it, but I'll put it on the mile-long list. ;-)

I've learned A LOT about pacing just these past few weeks and I've become the queen of deleting things in my MS, and tightening things up. The result? My 92K dropped to 79,410 and my 46k went down to 41k.

The more I went--the less painful it got. Easy. And I could see the difference it was making! I've got my third book on the chopping block now and there's no holding back!

~JD

Joanne Brothwell said...

I've been looking at that title for ages and now I'm convinced-I have to read it. Thanks!

Jared Larson said...

Thanks for this post, Matt. Concise writing, keeping it tight with a strong pace, carries a story far.
Also, thanks a ton for the reference. I really appreciate your help. You're a stud.

Slamdunk said...

I do that too Matthew--read great writers and marvel at how succinct they can be while it takes me a pragraph to present 1/2 of the same idea.

Off to check out Jared now...

LTM said...

you finished! It *was* awesome, yes? (Was that the line w/Rue?) You're right re: pacing and her excellent writing--there were times when I thought it was too descriptive, but that didn't bother me b/c it kept moving forward.

So... planning to read Catching Fire? I thought it was the best of the three.

Will run check out that other blog~

Elana Johnson said...

I think Collins shows that you don't have to use a lot of words to convey something powerful. It's something I'm still striving for.

ali said...

That is a GREAT example of Suzanne's style and DIRECT is the perfect word for it.

I checked out your buddy's blog and became a follower! Always cool to encourage a new blogger :)

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I love Collin's quick and concise style, and I've taken many notes on suspense and pacing while reading her books. Can't wait to hear what you think of Catching Fire and Mockingjay!!

(I visited Jared's blog -- thanks for the rec. I'm a follower now :D)

Angela Ackerman said...

Hunger Games is one of my all time Fav books. It's a lot like a teen version of Stephen King's The Running Man spliced with The Long Walk, but she made it her own and it was riveting from start to finish.

I just finished my last round of revisions so no I finally can get started on MockingJay. It's been hard to stay away from spoilers!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Bish Denham said...

Sigh...I haven't read these books yet! I keep hearing how good they are.

Laura Pauling said...

All well written powerful books seems to be like that. Less is more. We just have to figure out the 'less' part. :)

RaShelle said...

Hey Matthew - Yes, Suzanne Collins is one talented writer. She was one of the first present tense writers that it felt right to read. For me, anyway. I read the book with my daughter and we both loved it!

VICTORIA SAAVEDRA said...

I'm reading this series now. I'm on Mockingjay and I'm still wowed with these books.

Enjoy!

cassandrajade said...

Sounds like I'm going to have to check out the book - if only to check out the technique. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this story.

Okie said...

Great post...I definitely agree with you that the pacing is very well done in this series. Nice review. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I agree with everything you've said here - the entire Hunger Games trilogy had me missing sleep to finish it in one gulp.

I'm seriously in awe of Collins' craft. As you say, her spare words say so much.

She's also crafted an amazing amount of conflict in one story, part of what I think keeps the pages turning.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I agree with everything you've said here - the entire Hunger Games trilogy had me missing sleep to finish it in one gulp.

I'm seriously in awe of Collins' craft. As you say, her spare words say so much.

She's also crafted an amazing amount of conflict in one story, part of what I think keeps the pages turning.

Tere Kirkland said...

So much Hunger Games love!

I think what I like about Collins's writing is how much tone she can squeeze into such spare prose.

Great topic.

Sara McClung ♥ said...

I love love loved the book :) And you're 100% correct with the term direct to describe her writing. (Wow. Unintentional poetry right there...)

arlee bird said...

Sounds like a style of writing that I'd like.

Lee
Tossing It Out

paulgreci said...

I've read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I agree, the pacing is excellent, and I love the way she nails the present tense.

Kristi Helvig said...

You and I are on some weird blog wavelength--Suzanne is part of my post tomorrow. I finished Mockingjay yesterday and am SO impressed with her. This book was the hardest of the three for me to read--war without the escapist element of it being a 'game' (like the first two books) made it more disturbing for me and took me longer to get through. I love how she weaves a story and as what I'm working on now is a trilogy, I'm hoping I learned a thing or two from her. :)

Stephen Tremp said...

Pacing is important. You can only go so far with character development, although a balance needs to be struck to make the reader care about the protagonist and the victims. I love a well paced book. I have eleven murders to keep the plot moving in my book. And they are not gratuitous killings. There is a reason for them. Thanks for the blog.

Thanks for the well =wishes. Its going to be a great week for everyone. I'm thinking big thoughts.

Stephen Tremp

Stephen Tremp said...

Pacing is important. You can only go so far with character development, although a balance needs to be struck to make the reader care about the protagonist and the victims. I love a well paced book. I have eleven murders to keep the plot moving in my book. And they are not gratuitous killings. There is a reason for them. Thanks for the blog.

Thanks for the well =wishes. Its going to be a great week for everyone. I'm thinking big thoughts.

Stephen Tremp

Erica M. Chapman said...

I love that book. Collins rocks the pacing. I've tried to read it to see what she does, but I always get sucked in ;o)

I did read it in one sitting and paid for it the next day!

Old Kitty said...

Great review!! And another reason why this series is on my wishlist!!! :-)

My early forays into writing stories were a harsh lesson in realising that "less is indeed more"!!

Take care
x