It all started with these blog posts elsewhere:
I’ve been griping while reading The Hunger Games, and I’ve been making notes.
When I first started reading and bumped into the word “Appalachia” in the text, my only thought was, “They better pronounce it right in the movie.” Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff, like I said, I’ve been making notes. Like, I don’t know anybody in any part of Appalachia who says stuff like “clean my teeth” or knows what a “batter cake” is – I had to google batter cake, and I’m still not sure what it is; my mother-in-law doesn’t know what it is, either.
Also, Katniss is portrayed as not very bright. I’m wondering if the author was playing on the “dumb mountain coal miner” stereotype? But if she was, it’s not working for me, and it got old fast.
My opinion is, if you’re going to write about a place, make sure you know something about it first – go there and take notes and pictures and talk to people and see things and do things, if you can. Don’t just make stuff up as you go along or insert what you’re familiar with. Because there are always going to be people who read your stuff who know better. And will complain. Loudly and publicly. Like I do.
Mari – You give good examples of things that can at the very least annoy the reader and at the worst, draw the reader out of the story. It really is important that characters in novels act and speak in authentic ways. Otherwise it’s too hard to believe the story. The same is true for things the characters do. All sorts of factors have to be taken into consideration when sharing a setting with the reader; language is one of those factors and it’s really important. As you say, if the author isn’t careful to present a realistic picture of a place, including the way the people who live there speak, act and behave, readers will complain. Loudly.
I have such notes scribbled on two sheets of notepaper, taken during the course of reading this book. And honestly, most of this stuff can be said about the other two books as well.
first person present – difficult to follow unless well written
inconsistent use of serial comma
“try and” instead of “try to”
inconsistency between District Twelve and District 12
commas where there should be periods or other punctuation
uses of “it was” to start sentences – lazy writing and easy to correct
what the heck is “batter cake”?
Katniss saying “frosting”; people in Appalachia call it “icing”
“Don’t let’s pretend” – who talks like that?
“clean my teeth” is British
“skintight socks” aren’t almost all socks skintight?
“all of a sudden” – really?
“their” as a gender neutral pronoun drives me out of my tree
“Katniss” isn’t found, as a plant, in the United States
“Katniss” and “catnip” aren’t the same thing
Was a description of what a cornucopia is necessary? Or was the writer trying to describe that particular cornucopia? Hard to tell.
Within three pages, we’re reminded twice of Haymitch’s “directive” to find water. Go, then! Find water!
“Water runs downhill.” Also, water is wet, and the sky is blue. Too, having grown up how and where she did, Katniss would have known this without being told.
“Anyone who disturbs their nest and attempt to kill them” Spelling mistake? Overlooked? Typo?
“couldn’t survive without water. I knew that from my first few days here.” Duh. And another thing she should have known because of where and how she grew up.
Yes! We know you have nine arrows left! Stop telling me! (page 278)
Also, I never saw any growth in Katniss at all. She remained weak and cardboard throughout the entire series. She should have figured out what was happening to her somewhere toward the start of the second book. But then, I guess if she had figured it out, the last two books wouldn’t have happened. Maybe.
Thanks to the writer for perpetuating the poor dumb miner/Appalachian stereotype. We who live/grew up there appreciate it so very much!