Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Is The Hunger Games a Masterpiece?

NOTICE: Before I begin, I want to announce the winner of a free copy of SHADOW ON THE MOON. It is Estella, but she left no way to contact her. So, Estella, please contact me at connieflynn@yahoo.com and I’ll get that free book to you ASAP.  
                                                                                                                  from Connie Flynn

    Even though I’m starting this post by telling you I finished my fantasy novel a couple weeks ago, this blog really is about The Hunger Games.  Honest.  But I wanted you to know that I had plans to announce my completed novel from the rooftops.  I figured I’d Facebook it, tweet it, blog it, post to my every Yahoo Group.  But I didn’t and I’m not sure why. Oh, told friends and family, announced it at a couple writer’s groups, but that’s pretty much it.
    I have no answer except that I still have revisions and some rewrites to do, so the book isn’t fully finished. So . . . perhaps I’m saving the celebration for the sale or pub date.  Or maybe there’s a questions I’m not brave enough to ask myself.
    Which brings me now to The Hunger Games. I wonder if Suzanne Collins knew, as she was writing, that she would produce a masterpiece?     
    I truly doubt that. 
    The book is composed with such effortless prose that I don’t think her thoughts were on anything except getting that scene just right, exposing Katniss’s true character action by action.
    In case you haven’t read the books or seen the movie, here’s a quick synopsis.  
    Katniss Aberdeen is a hunter, living in a post-war society divided into twelve districts. Most of the sectors are pockets of abject poverty and District Twelve, where Katniss lives, is one of the worst.  Katniss provides for her fatherless family by poaching in the forbidden forest and bartering her illegal kills for other commodities.
    The seat of government is called the Capitol. It is affluent and corrupt and their major concern is keeping the districts under control so they continue providing raw materials that sustain the Capitol’s lifestyle. 
    They do this through the Hunger Games, an annual challenge fueled by a lottery called the reaping. One girl and one boy between the ages of twelve and eighteen are chosen as ‘tributes’ to compete with tributes from other districts. The televised game is unsupervised and at an isolated location and these young tributes battle until all but one is dead.  The sole winner gains lifelong financial security and valuable boons for their district.
    The story opens the day of the reaping. This is Katniss’s sister’s first year and she is not expected to be drawn. Unlikely as they thought it was, she is drawn and Katniss volunteers to take her place.  Her offer is accepted.
    She puts her family in the care of the boy who was her lifelong friend and hunting partner then  leaves for the games with the baker’s son, Peeta, a gentle soul whose own mother told him she thought Katniss would win the games.
    This powerful premise leads into a story of high stakes and unlikely alliances that require strategies worthy of Lucrezia Borgia and plays out with non-stop action, high emotion and unexpected twists. The writing itself is smooth, clear and punchy.  Male readers are devouring this book and its sequels, probably due to the non-stop action.
    The movie is just as powerful. A breath-stealing ride through the world Suzanne Collins built, it stayed truer to the book itself than most adaptations. According to the buzz, Collins was an active consultant. If so, this woman really knows how to structure a story. The complex details of this story demanded careful sifting to keep the external story thread intact, yet maintain the same rich emotional moments that gave the book its impact. The movie succeeds beautifully because the book was brilliantly written.  In my only moderately humble opinion, The Hunger Games might be declared a masterpiece.
    Now I wonder, did Collins know she was writing a masterpiece while she was writing?  I still don’t think so. I think she was just doing a writer’s job, putting words on paper to build scene after scene, reveal character after character.
    And that brings me back to finishing my own book, which contains complex societies and multiple characters.  I, too, wrote it page by page, scene by scene, character by character. Yes, I now see the question I was afraid to ask:
     Have I written a masterpiece?
    It would be nice, wouldn’t it?  But the truth is that I have no idea.  Only time can tell. All I do know is to keep on writing, keep on revising, and keep on coming up with story ideas. So that’s what I’ll do.
    I’m fairly well convinced that’s what Suzanne Collins did . . . and probably still does.

    I hope some of you are as jazzed by The Hunger Games as I am, although some of you might not be and I’d be delighted to hear your opinions (no spoilers, though, please).  Leave a comment and I’ll put you in for a drawing for a free ebook version of my first mystery short story, Old Bones, published by my alter-ego, K.C. Flynn.  Please leave a way to reach you if you happen to be the winner.  In the meantime have a great April and, if you celebrate it, a lovely Easter. 


Melissa McClone said...

I don't know if Collins knew what she was writing would be so successful and embraced the way it was. I would love to know the answer to that question.

This wasn't some original idea/plotline either, but she put her own twist on it and the world building was fantastic. I read it a few days before I saw the movie on opening day. And I've already finished the trilogy. I never have time to read that much and found myself making the time! I must admit, I preferred the first two books to the third. The last third of that final one didn't satisfy me like the rest of the story.

Hope you find similar success with the book you just finished!

catslady said...

I hope it is a masterpiece. It's really hard to say what will take off or not but it seems lately that YA's that also appeal to adults have the right possible formula. I loved the books and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the first movie. Of course the book is always better with so much more depth and detail. My biggest complaint was Cinna - I believe they didn't get him right (possibly to avoid controversy but who knows why).

Donna Marie Del Grosso said...

Hi Connie!
Thanks for the awesome post....... I dropped by ready to learn something and I did! (As always) I have to admit I still haven't read The Hunger Games. But if I can still take a guess, I figure Collins did not know she created a masterpiece. I don't think the book would have been as big a hit. It's hard to write when there's someone looking over your shoulder! PS- Congratulations on finishing your book =)

Connie Flynn said...

Sorry to everyone for being so late getting into the blog today. I had some unexpected work demands that took up my time.

Connie Flynn said...

Hey, I am so sorry I'm so late getting back to the blog. I had some unexpected work projects that have taken up much of my time. But I'm on my way to giving personal replies. Be sure to check back tomorrow to see who won the free ebook of my short mystery story.

Connie Flynn said...

Melissa, Thanks so much for stopping by to comment on my blog.

I agree about the masterpiece stuff.Yeah, I've never ever written great stuff when I was really trying to. It's why I love editing so much -- I can clean up the rubble and turn it into something. Seemed to me that the Hunger Games was a twist on the Survivor reality show, someone told me she actually got the idea from a Greek tragedy.

I also agree about book three. I'm hoping there is a sequel in the works.

Thanks for the good wishes for my book.Let me know the next time you're blogging and I'll drop on by.

Connie Flynn said...


Thanks for coming by again. I do think Hunger Games IS a masterpiece. I couldn't put the books down and I was thrilled with the movie. I don't disagree with you about Cinna, although tonight several of my students said they loooved Cinna. I thought he was okay but there wasn't enough screen time for him. I did love these books and I preparing to love the movies. Great storytelling.

Connie Flynn said...

Donna, How good to see you and I'm glad you enjoyed the post. You must read The Hunger Games. They'll soon be part of the literary landscape. And if not, do see the movies. It is gripping.

I agree. I don't see how Suzanne could have had any idea how big her books would get. The internal editor would just go bonkers with that kind of pressure.

Thanks for the congrats about finishing my book. The edits are going well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up, Connie. I was wondering how good this series was, and now, since the opinion comes from your highly respected expertise, I will definitely give the Hunger Games a shot. Good luck with the finished manuscript. Can't wait to read it.

Anonymous said...

By the way, that comment above was from Vijaya Schartz. This blog didn't register my ID. And my email is vijayaschartz@cox.net

Anonymous said...

Vijaya Schartz - vijayaschartz@cox.net

I was wondering about the Hunger Games. Now that I have your expert opinion, I'll give them a shot. Thanks for sharing, Connie.

And good luck with the new book.
Can't wait to read it.

Lady Editor said...

I've read the first book only. Enjoyed it, but am not a fan of first person written books. All the way through, I kept wondering about the other characters, what they were doing, etc. I'm just that way. I do, however, understand the book was written mainly for young readers, which may be one of the reason why Collins stayed in Katniss' viewpoint only. I've picked up the other two books, but am saving them for Easter Baskets...(daughter and my hubby who are waiting like me to finish the series.) BIG GRIN. Great blog, Connie.

Lady Editor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Connie Flynn said...

Lady Editor, thanks for dropping by and sharing your opinion on the blog. I know lots of people who don't like first person. Personally, I like both first and third, and I'm pretty sure I would adore the Hunger Game series no matter which viewpoint was used because it's so well written.

Connie Flynn said...

One last comment from your Tuesday hostess. The winner of my free ebook short mystery story is Donna Del Grosso.

Congratulations, Donna. Send me the email address you want the coupon sent to and I'll get it out right away.