Hunger Games Trilogy

I had the recent misfortune to finish reading the three books in the Hunger Games Series.  Before reading further, if you have not read them and you plan to stop reading now.  Final warning.

********Spoiler Alert********
I started reading them because they came recommended by many of my friends and family.  The first book was even mildly entertaining, if not very original.  The characters had potential and there was the possibility of getting to know a dystopian future with lessons to learn.  Ends up, the author was creative enough only to write the same book three times changing only the location and the names of the people killed.
And killing she did.  The author seemed to delight in finding new ways of describing death and killing.  The first book is not too graphic but each book after finds the author going deeper and deeper into a the dark impulses in her brain.  Also, I knew going in that kids would be killed, I just had no idea a person could enjoy writing so much in such detail about the pain and suffering.  I felt sad that the author could not find a better way to tell her story.
But then, she’s not a great story teller.  Each book is essentially the main character Katniss going through the games teaming up with people and killing others.  All the while we’re stuck in her adolescent head worrying about her feelings for two boys and not grasping her own worth.  One may argue the books were written for a younger audience; however, the level of violence depicted would only be suitable for someone over 17 by which time the reader should ready for 3 dimensional characters rather than poor stereotypes.  They should want a rich world and plots that don’t have huge gaps. 
The plot gaps were worse than the tedium of reading the same book three times.  Somehow, this is the only nation left on earth since the rest of the planet is polluted beyond habitation.  There is technology enough to have flying machines, tv, holo-maps and control of remote weapons of fantastic capabilities, but no satellites to make any of that possible.  They can create impossible biological creatures of mixed DNA fabricated to kill only, but somehow they can control the creatures.  Finally, there is the gaps in logic that are required just to move the story along.  Every time you think it’s bad the author makes it worse.  The final scene where the author just starts shooting kids and blowing them up, then inexplicably all the characters seem to lose their sense of sight and good judgment resulting in the killing of Prim, the younger sister that started the whole thing off.  My eyes rolled so far into my head I could see my brain shrinking from how useless that plot point was
It seems to me the author simply could not decide who she wanted to be; a young adult writer like Eoin Colfer or a horror writer the delights in killing main characters like Stephen King.   She could not decide if her main character was strong or constantly self doubting.  The only points that came across loud and clear is decadence, TV and wars are bad.  I just found these books to be worse.


I know I am slow to start, but I have a few entries to make up for it.  These are entries for The Steampunk Challenge.  Please visit the links to see many examples of the Steampunk genre and get reviews to help you make a decision on which to try.
My first entry is Boneshaker by Cherie Priest.  From the publisher:
“In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.
But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.
Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.
His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.”
As a first read I think this was a pretty good start.  You have all the key elements of what I like in steampunk, old world around 1860-1890, high technology that should not be around but could have and airships…lost of air ships.  The story starts off a little slow, introduced as a history lesson.  Later the story is told from both Zeke’s and Briar’s perspectives alternately.  The world is laid out with detailed care as Ms. Priest took the time to look at maps of the Seattle area during the general time period.  A few reviewers had criticized the author for having flat characters.  I found the two main characters well thought out, but very aggravating.  They are stubborn and untrusting and it makes the reader want to knock them in the head for making their lives more difficult.  There are a lot of other characters introduced, but are left flat.  I presume the author intends to write more in this world focusing on some of these others as time goes on.
I really enjoyed the horror aspect of the story added with the zombies that seem to be everywhere.  We are told that the mysterious “Blight” gas is to blame, but no further details are given.  I also like the hints of the US Civil War going on which would have a huge impact on any steampunk placed it America.  The two protagonists’ are hounded both directly and indirectly my the mysterious Dr. Minnericht.  Though the tries to keep the true identity secret, it sometimes feels contrived.  As I stated before, I found the two main character irritating, but that may be my failing as the author intended to show what two people might be like under very difficult conditions.
Overall, I think the book is worth the time to read for anyone who loves steampunk or just lovers of science fiction.