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Ender’s Game vs. The Hunger Games vs. A Game of Thrones

October 24, 2013
Game of Thrones

Even the dragon is getting tired of waiting for The Winds of Winter.

It doesn’t happen very often, where three of the biggest bestsellers in science fiction/fantasy, where three amazingly popular books (even series), have the same word in the title with the same grim meaning.  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?).

We readers 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?  With so many “games,” and so many movies and TV series, I don’t have the time to read all the books and watch all the movies (Ender’s Game, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire) and keep up with all the seasons of the HBO series, especially during football season.  But I can start.

THE HUNGER GAMES

The good news about The Hunger Games is that Suzanne Collins kept it to three books.   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 all over the place (in my opinion).

It’s probably not fair to complain about the last two books without a concrete reason.  I felt an emotional impact in The Hunger Games that I didn’t feel in the other books.  For example, when Katniss volunteered to take her sister’s place in the “Games,” I actually had to stop reading for a minute (Whoa!).  I felt the emotional impact several times in The Hunger Games, but the other two books didn’t affect me the same way.  Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind as a reader when I read them, but I think a lot of it had to do with the author not taking her time with the books.

Sometimes authors write too many books too quickly, and that may have happened here.

ENDER’S GAME

Of the three books/series, Ender’s Game was the first book but the last to be turned into a movie orTV series.  Every time I think Orson Scott Card is done with the series, he comes out with another Ender book.  Ender’s Game already has two sets of sequels.  That’s right.  Two SETS of sequels.  One is 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 have been more (and I think I accidentally read another one a couple years ago) since.

I read these before I established my own rules for reading (no more than three books per author or series).  If I remember correctly, none of the books are bad, but they decline a bit as they go. And still, I kept reading them, so they must have been entertaining.

A GAME OF THRONES

These are the easiest books for me to write about because I haven’t read them.  I started A Game of Thrones (or the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire), but then stopped when I realized that the series isn’t finished yet, and (from what I’ve heard) it’s probably gone on too long already.  And if I’m going to follow my own rules for reading books, I may never go back and finish.  I don’t read books over 500 pages long, and I don’t read more than three books from an author anymore, and I don’t read a series until it’s done.

A Game of Thrones might be (and probably is) great.  From what I hear, I believe it at least has moments of greatness.  But it’s long.  And it’s not done yet.

*****

What about you?  Which of these books (or series) have you read?  Which of these movies (or TV series) have you seen?  How would you compare the books with the movies?  Am I wrong about Catching Fire and Mockinjay? Am I wrong not to read A Game of Thrones?  Am I wrong about the Ender books?  What else am I wrong about? Am I right about anything?

*****

While you’re waiting for The Winds of Winter, read…

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From → Literary Combat

19 Comments
  1. I’ve read all these books except for Ender’s Game. I somehow agree with your opinion on Hunger Games that it should have been written as one novel, and true, after the first book, it’s just about finding out how it ended. However, with the Game of Thrones novel series, I understand how you feel about its length and the fact that it’s not done yet, kind of puts the reader in “limbo” while waiting for the next book to come out. If the story isn’t that compelling, I would have stopped reading after the third book. Unfortunately, it’s not. I have to get the next book and see it to its end. That’s why George R.R. Martin owes his readers the best ending he could master. I don’t care if he kills every character in the book, he has to live longer to bring the story to completion.

  2. spinningayarn01 permalink

    I agree with most of what you say here. I’ve read most of the books. I haven’t finished the Ender books yet, but I read the first one. You are spot on with The Hunger Games. I would have been happy with just the first one. I do think you should give Game of Thrones a try. It does have some draw backs, like the amount of time invested in reading them, waiting for them and the risk that Martin may die before finishing. However, I think they are worth the read. The characters have a lot of depth and watching them develop throughout the story is fascinating. The characters feel like real people. I don’t think I’ve read another series that has inspired as much emotional investment as the characters do in Game of Thrones.

  3. I read the Game of Thrones (but not the other two). By about a third book, I also started getting the impression that the author has no idea where he is going with everything, and just trying to wing it, and just kills off main characters instead of completing any of their stories. This is how it all would work, if that was a reality taking place in the GoT fantasy world – no beginnings, no ends, pointless deaths, just series of loosely related events.

  4. I loved Hunger Games. I actually liked them as a series vs just one book. I liked the third book the least because it seemed like the author was just trying to end the damn thing.

    I read Ender’s Game because my book club picked it and our theme appears to be to read books before they are turned into movies. I liked it but the ending was kind of a a let down.

    I’m halfway through the most recent Game of Thrones book. I got bored (or lost) and stopped reading. Your choice not to read them until Martin finishes is a good one. If you get really curious you can always watch the HBO series.

  5. I’ve read all of the above, and I *mostly* enjoyed them. Catching Fire was fantastic, in my opinion, mostly because it introduced the character of Finnick Odair, whom I love forever and a day. Mockingjay was … troubled. As for Ender’s Game, loved the first book, lukewarm about the rest. Speaker for the Dead was a pretty good read. The books focusing on Bean were interesting, but I found that they tended to drag a lot, which I dislike in a book. As for Game of Thrones, they also drag, but I’ve gotten emotionally invested in the characters now so I need to keep reading and find out what happens 🙂

  6. yes! Exactly right about the Hunger Games – 1 was great, 2 and 3 not so much. I couldn’t handle what happened with the Ender books… I recall liking Bean a lot in Ender’s Game itself, but he was not an interesting enough character to carry books on his own (or perhaps it was that I grew out of the series… precocious to the point of ridiculous kids kicking ass generally hold a lot more interest when you’re a kid reading than when you’re an adult).

    Regarding Game of Thrones, I made it about 75 pages into the first one before I decided that things were just going to be too dark for me and that this was likely to turn into another Wheel of Time debacle, with 13 books of wildly varying quality and a different author having to swoop in after the original author dies. My husband read them and is of your opinion… What’s GRR Martin doing here? Fantasy? Zombies? Eh?

  7. sassybookworm permalink

    Really interesting post and I definitely agree with you about The Hunger Games – I have written a review on it if you would like to take a look?!

  8. Veronica permalink

    I completely agree with you on The Hunger Games. It should have been left as one novel. The first was a page turner, and by the third, I was just ready for it to all be over.

  9. I’ve finished the first two books of the first Ender series, and am in the middle of Xenocide. So far, I like all three. Ender’s Game was by far the best, but the others are good too. When did you start to feel that the series went into decline? I appreciate how deeply he gets into his characters, particularly in the second and third books.

  10. D. A. King permalink

    I have to agree with your take on The Hunger Games. The first book was great, but after that I have had a real hard time connecting with the characters in the last two. Personally I dislike having to push past slow explanations for half a book to get to the action as in Catching Fire. Just started Mockingjay so hopefully the ending is worth it!

  11. This is a very interesting post. I completely agree with some of your points and disagree with some of them. I agree with you point about The Hunger Games. The first one was full of suspense. It highlighted some things about our society in shockingly dramatic and disturbingly accurate ways. It was also full of emotional conflicts that readers can relate to. However, the second two books seemed slow. They were not as relatable and did not pull the readers in as much. With Ender’s Game, I enjoyed the first one a great deal. The others were okay, but not spectacular. I personally have not read Game of Thrones yet. I also agree that after three books a series tends to go almost nowhere. On the other hand, I disagree with your 500 page rule. Some of my favorite books are over 500 pages long. It takes a good author to write a good work that is that long, but sometimes the story just spans that much. The only way to know if it is worth the 500+ pages is to read it.

  12. Ender’s Game is the only one of these I’ve read yet. I loved it but don’t have any desire to read the sequels. I tried to read A Song of Fire and Ice, but couldn’t get into it, and I hope to read the Hunger Games books sometime. I feel the same way as you about long, unfinished series. I’ll wait until they’re finished to not read them.

  13. yaykisspurr permalink

    Hi! Enjoyed your post.

    I’ve read all three Hunger Games and found the second and third book were so bad due to a rookie writing mistake. You have to engender sympathy for the character in each book. You can’t rely on what readers know about the character from the previous books. If the reader doesn’t care about the protagonist’s current situation then the book will be a letdown. I think there was a three book arc for Katniss in the world but it was a writing problem.

    Love Ender’s Game. Love, love, love! I read the first Bean book and was devastated. Emotionally traumatized and wouldn’t read another Orson Scott Card book again. I hate when a sequel makes the first book irrelevant. This to me is what is wrong with adult sci-fi and fantasy today. We aren’t trying to go on journeys anymore so much as supplying twists and surprises to shock and horrify. It’s why YA has become so popular.

    I’ve never read Game of Thrones or even bothered to try…some of the comments do make it sound more intriguing though as they are so passionate about the characters. To me adult sci-fi and fantasy boringly go into too much detail of the trees and mountains and other boring things that I already know what they look like. The characters’ thoughts tend to be boring as well and it takes them too long to get to the point. It would be fine if the journey were fun or rollicking in any way but typically it isn’t. It’s getting from point A to point B and it’s mostly done boringly.

    I think it’s funny you have rules about reading!! Go with your gut! I love series with more than just three books because one of my favorite series is Deathlands which has many, many in the series. But it’s about the characters and the journey. If everything were just about the end result then we all ought to just lay down and die, right? Isn’t that the ultimate end of everything?

  14. I have not read any of these books so your reviews are food for thought. I am curious as to why you do not review books > 500 pages?

  15. My reading lately has had to do with history and war. I am not happy with the war mindset but I am equally averse to soldier haters and the people who get young men to fight when no one but them care.

  16. Khadija Charles permalink

    Yessasssss, i could not agree more about the Hunger Games book 2 and 3, especially 3. I couldnt stand three. The emotion that i felt in 1 went from compassion and sympathy to anger and fruatration by 3. And the movie!!! Dont get me started. There was NO EMOTION AT ALL. I yelled at the screen and im not afraid to admit it. Btw, i love yout humoristic writng. I dont keep up with many blogs which is shitty of me because i ask people to keep up with mine, but i feel im justified because i just dont have the time… aaaannnd my laptop broke… and my phone screen.. anyway i digress, your work is totally worth the akward read on my shitty phone. And yes, i do know that was a horrible run-on. In conclusion, thanks!

  17. I’ve read all three Hunger games Books as well as the whole A Song of Ice and Fire trilogy. I remember reading Ender’s Game waay back when I was younger and loved it. But honestly, I completely lost track of all the books in that series that I decided not reading them was probably the best way to go.

    As for the length of the ASioF books, let me just tell you, you can blow through them once you get involved in the story. I loved the third book so much that it took me only three days to finish it!
    Of course, I may be biased because I LOVE big fat books 😛

  18. “These are the easiest books for me to write about because I haven’t read them.” – Hilarious

    Ender’s Game is the best science fiction novel I’ve ever read (Starships Troopers being second). I started Hunger Games and didn’t finish it. I felt the writing was bland and while the concept seemed interesting the execution was not.

    I won’t read any author who puts the intials R.R. on his fantasy books when the next name is not Tolkein. That’s like trying out for quarterback of the 49ers under the name Joe Wisconsin.

  19. Anonymous permalink

    I dont read that book at all, but i watch the movie,,, and i do agree with your post .. and thanks for the knowlegde

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