As if we read two different books

Christian blogger Trevin Wax re-posts a review of The Hunger Games (the novel). A writer named N.D. Wilson wrote the original review. As my blog title suggests, I find it baffling—as if he were reading an entirely different book from the one I read.

If you’ve read The Hunger Games, read this review and tell me what you think. In the meantime, here is the brief comment that I posted in Wax’s comments section.

Sorry I’m late on this… I only just skimmed the 100+ comments, but the criticism of the review is well-deserved. I don’t get the author’s point. First, if he agrees that Collins is a good writer and this book has real merit as literature, what’s the complaint about her getting so many aspects of human nature wrong? Good writers aren’t good writers if they misunderstand human nature.

By all means, the premise behind The Hunger Games is ghastly. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, so I don’t believe that the world that Collins creates is likely to come to pass. Nevertheless, given this world, I find Katniss’s behavior realistic, consistent, and—after a fashion—heroic. Not unambiguously so, but isn’t that also like real life? I suppose the Christian thing to do would have been for her to simply step off the arena platform before the countdown had finished, blowing herself to bits, refusing to participate in the bloodletting. Or to have stood still after the games began and let other people murder her. But that would seem incredibly unrealistic.

As for Tom Wolfe’s asking Wilson about the book and then “blinking in confusion” after hearing about the “primary plot points”… Good heavens! I think I’ll read a Cliff’s Notes of The Bonfire of the Vanities and decide whether the book is any good. Wolfe is literate. Couldn’t he read it for himself fairly quickly and reach his own conclusion. I suspect he might even learn something about the craft of writing, since Collins is pretty good at it! As it is, “blinking in confusion” isn’t a valid critique.

Forgive me for suspecting that Wilson just wanted an excuse to name-drop Tom Wolfe.

2 thoughts on “As if we read two different books”

  1. All of us in this household have read all three “Hunger Games” books and have enjoyed them very much. The book does an excellent job of putting your mind into a fantasy world where the inhabitants are controlled by the government. Not a new idea, many have done this before. As far as Mr. Wilson’s assertion that The Hunger Games does not reflect human nature, has he ever watch Survivor?

    1. Good point! One common refrain by the contestants on “Survivor” is: “I thought I could play this game with integrity, but I was wrong.” Few contestants expect to have to lie and cheat and compromise their principles to win, yet all of them do at some point.

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