John-Michael Gariepy

Two Books: Mockingjay and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I don’t need to give you a review of these two books.  I’m quite sure that if you picked up a virtual rock on the internet and threw it, you’d hit someone with a virtual opinion on one book or the other.  I’m more interested in talking about reading books outside of your normal reading list because they happen to be popular.

The Hunger Games Trilogy gets a poor rap from people who haven’t read it or watched the movie.  I’ve seen enough comments from people who swear that they will never read it because it is a book aimed at teenagers, or because they don’t like Science Fiction, or because “The plot is evidently stolen from another book I haven’t read:  Battle Royal.”  Those are all legitimate reasons why you should not read a book.  I mean, I’m not really a fan of Westerns.  I’m not insulted by them or anything, but I don’t read Westerns that are popular with other people who read Westerns.  But, I’ve read Shane, because it was a good book with a long tradition of capturing readers who didn’t normally read Westerns.

With that in mind, if you haven’t read The Hunger Games, you should be reading The Hunger Games.  Why?  Because I’ve met a lot of people who’ve read The Hunger Games, and I’ve yet tomeet a person who was passive about the book.  Everyone I’ve met, who’s read the book, from many different personalities and backgrounds, have liked reading The Hunger Games.

But there are so many books to read!  Why should one devote their time to this one book, when there’s another ten books in your wheelhouse leaving a dent on your bedroom mantle?

Recently, I had the pleasure of reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.   A friend of mine recommended it, so I picked up a copy to play in my car’s CD player while I drove back and forth to work.  I had the CDs in my car, sitting on the passenger seat and ready to go in, but, instead, I drove for a while content to listen to the wacky morning DJ.  I figured I’d toss the first CD in when I was bored of the mindless chatter and bicycle horns.  As fate would have it, said wacky DJ just happened to mention two very important plot points in the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in passing.  I was stunned.  I shut the radio off, but it was too late.  As the days went by, and I listened to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I couldn’t help but think of the two plot points that were bound to come up, which came close to ruining my ability to pay attention to what was happening in the story right now.

Was that DJ a jerk for having dropped that information?  Yes.  But that DJ’s job is to be a jerk.  He’s supposed to be sassy, and not care what you think, and upset a minority of people to the amusement of the majority.  That’s his job, and you can only get so mad at a man who is doing the job that we, as a society, pay him to do.  It was too soon for me to hear this information, but was it too soon for his audience to hear it?  The movie came out in December; That was four months ago.  The book’s been around since 2004.

When are we allowed to talk about plot points in movies and books like it’s common knowledge?  What makes it okay for me to tell you that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father, but makes it unacceptable for me to tell you what the obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey is?  Or would it be okay for me to start talking about that?  How about Tron?  Tron: Legacy came out in 2010, so talking about important plot points in that movie would seem out of place.  But the plot to Tron: Legacy is built on the plot of the 1982 movie, Tron.  Can I talk about plots in both movies that are parallel to each other?  Can I only talk about plot points if they are different and I am only referring to the 1982 movie?  Or is it an accidental tell when I say that, at the end of the first Tron movie, MCP is destroyed by Tron.  I mean, now you know that didn’t happen in Tron: Legacy.  Is it okay to only talk about the original Tron if I have yet to watch Tron: Legacy, and let jewels about the second movie spill out of my mouth by accident?

What am I getting at?  Well, the way things are going with The Hunger Games, there will be a time, soon, when practically everything in that book is public knowledge.  You will know that these aren’t the droids you’re looking for, that Mrs. Robinson is trying to seduce you, that you see dead people, and that one does not simply walk into Mordor.  And those are just the throw-away lines.  Sure, the line was spoiled because you didn’t get to experience it without a knowing wink from your subconscious.  But it wasn’t spoiled in the way that a piece of folded paper meant that the main character wasn’t human, or that the villain painted a portrait of the hero and left it for them in the place he slept.

Do yourself a favor.  Read The Hunger Games.  You will like it.  I can’t promise you will like reading it in six months, though.

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2 thoughts on “Two Books: Mockingjay and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

  1. Though, after all is said and done, what was your overall impression of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I just finished reading it two days ago or so. I did read the Hunger Games last October. Though I agree, I think an essence of something in the reading of it would be missed if lines, or plot points or spoiled.

    • I passed on a chance to give an impression of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” because it seemed like a decent read, but nothing too special to me. Like I said, though, my opinion of the book was given odd circumstances. There’s an extra strange detail that, while I listened to the book on CD, the reader of the book decided to give Lisbeth, the female lead, a low, thick Londoner accent, which I never would have thought to give her myself. Weird.

      I completely understand why other people would love this book, though. Bloomkvist and Lisbeth are captivating characters. The plot is well-played, hints to where it is going, but leaves plenty of space for the reader to sink their teeth into. There’s some really interesting questions about how people view themselves as moral creatures, which sprinkles through the book. I’d pick up some more things I liked about it, but this article is very ‘spoilers free’, and it would seem very odd for me to talk about plot points now. 🙂

      In the end, I’d have a hard time telling you why I didn’t think the book was a four or five star book, so I let the question hang. Do I recommend the book? Hmm. That’s tricky. I guess I would recommend the book based upon other people’s opinions of the book. If people insist this book is great, I’m not going to sit there and argue with them. There are, however, a lot of other great books out there. I wouldn’t stop someone from reading what is already on their reading list for GwtDT.

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