To begin, I would like that say that I have read all three books, but haven’t seen either of the movies.
I’m sure you’ve seen the many posts floating about commenting on how our media, like the Capitol, focuses on glorifying the romance in the series, and that is a parallel that Suzanne Collins was trying to make — that despite the fact that children, over one thousand children had died in the actual Games, we, the people, only care about whether we’re on Team Gale or Teem Peeta — and that’s sick. I’ll agree with that; it’s sick, period, that such a scenario (that is to say, children and young adults slaughtering other children and young adults against their will and for the entertainment of the wealthy) is conceivable in today’s society. The dystopian premise is interesting, absolutely, so don’t think that I have a problem with the genre. One of my favorite books, 1984, is a dystopian story, and the ending is much less “happy” than that of The Hunger Games (I prefer happy endings to tragedies). But despite the premise, The Hunger Games still fails in one critical area.
There is a reason many fans of the series focus on the romance.
That is the way the story is written. Suzanne Collins, whether intentionally or unintentionally, focuses much more on Katniss’s romantic dilemma between Gale and Peeta then the actual Games themselves. Never once is it mentioned how many children died in all of the Games. Hell, the first book revolved entirely around Katniss’s and Peeta’s “romance,” far beyond the reaches of the Capitol. Considering her circumstances, the last thing on Miss Everdeen’s mind should have been romance, and that’s another thing: for this particular story, Katniss Everdeen was a horrible choice for a main character. From the moment she volunteered in place of her younger sister, it was clear Collins intended Katniss to be a selfless character, but throughout the series I got the continued impression that she was self-centered. Whether she is or not is another matter, but the fact remains that that is the impression the series gave me, and is the impression I still have of her.
I don’t have a problem with romance in a story. I read the Harry Potter books when I was a child, have seen all the movies, and what romance there is fits in non-obtrusively with the rest of the plot — and that’s how it should be. Twilight, on the other hand, is awful because it is a romance with no truly romantic attributes, similar to the the lustful story of Romeo and Juliet. If you’ve ever read 1984, then you know that the main character, Winston Smith, regularly met and slept with a woman named Julia that they may rebel against the Party in the only way they could, but it was neither romantic or dramatic — it was meaningful, mature, and suitable for the genre the novel was written in. The Hunger Games tries to simultaneously be a warning of the dystopian path our world could someday take (exemplified by the Captiol) while also being a story for love-deprived tweens and teenagers (the mess with Peeta and Gale), and those simply aren’t two styles you can mix. It turns what should be a mature, cynical story into a hormonal, callow mess, nearly the exact opposite of the intended meaning that many fans claim the story has.
To summarize: Suzanne Collins’s writing style is not suitable for a story of this genre. The characters are written too immaturely for the setting, it takes itself too seriously, and the romantic aspect is worse than the subplot in The Legend of Korra. I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand why so many people love it.