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Ender’s Game, The Hunger Games, A Game of Thrones, and So Many Broken Rules

May 1, 2011


We get the idea.  The “games” are dangerous, and characters get killed, and it’s not really a “game,” but c’mon!  Can somebody grab a thesaurus? 

Ender’s Game is about a video game (kind of) of death.  The Hunger Games is about a reality show (kind of) of death.  A Game of Thrones is about a race against death (Can the author finish the entire series before he dies?).  Keep it up with all these games of death, and nobody will want to play games anymore.


The good news about The Hunger Games is that Suzanne Collins kept it to three books and therefore does not violate any rules of dysfunctional literacy.   Any series that goes over three books usually has an author that doesn’t know where the books are going.  The bad news is that The Hunger Games is better read as a single novel because the second book is too similar to the first book, and the third book is a mess (in my opinion). 

The upcoming dysfunctional literacy Rule #4 is about avoiding authors who write too many books too quickly and that may have happened here.   Maybe a few years from now, Suzanne Collins may take more time and rewrite a new set of sequels and just pretend that Catching Fire and Mockinjay never happened.  I would be willing to pretend with her.  


Congratulations, George R. Martin!  Though you are an immensely talented author, and your novel has turned into an HBO series (starring Boromir and Richard Sharpe), you still have managed to break not one, but two dysfunctional literacy rules! 

With five books in your series so far (Rule # 2 broken) at roughly 700 pages each (Rule #3 broken), that’s nearly 3500 pages for a story that is yet unfinished.  To a dysfunctional literate, that is unacceptable.  If we wanted a never-ending story, we can watch the soaps.  Oh wait, they’re getting cancelled.  Well, if we want a never-ending story, then we can watch the news.  Ugh, but then we’re going to fight over whether we watch FOX News or MSNBC or CNN or the networks or…  Aaaarrrgh! 

To be fair, A Game of Thrones is much better written than any soap (and better written than most news broadcasts as well).  Also to be fair, I haven’t read enough of the Song of Ice and Fire series to judge whether or not it deserves to be an exception to the dysfunctional literacy rules.  With so many books with so many pages, I’m not sure it’s worth the time to find out.


If a book has two sets of sequels and combined they go over three books, should a dysfunctional literate read them ?  Enders’ Game has two sets of sequels, one about Ender’s travels (Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind) and one about what happens to other characters right after Ender’s Game (Ender’s Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Giant, and there may be more I don’t know about).  That’s a grand total of eight books, and that’s a violation of my Rule #2 (don’t read more than three books in any given series). 

So, what do we do?  Does Orson Scott Card’s pair of series deserve to be read? 

Here’s the unofficial ruling. 

Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind should be considered a separate group because their characters, tone, and style are completely different from the Shadow books (and are much better books).  If either of the sets of sequels deserves to be read, it would be the one beginning with Speaker for the Dead.   The Shadow sequels are good but not great, so you can probably find far better books to read instead.   

If you really want to save some time, just read The Hunger Games and Ender’s Game and then move on to something else that has nothing to do with “games.”

From → Literary Combat

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