Meagan’s Musings/Meagan Stilp

I have come to the conclusion that writing a series is difficult. It doesn’t matter if that series comes in the form of a book, a TV show or a movie – “Iron Man,” anyone? It seems difficult to maintain the same level of energy and, perhaps more importantly, character development after the first round.

On Nov. 21, “Catching Fire” will be coming to theaters – even in Houghton. “Catching Fire” is the sequel to “The Hunger Games.” The trilogy obviously came out as young adult novels before being picked up for the big screen and serves as a great example of the difficulty of working with a series.

I should say now that I like all three of the books and I really enjoyed the first movie, despite the details they left out. I plan on seeing the second movie on opening night and probably rereading the series before then. However, if I had read the third book first I probably would not have gone back to read the other two.

Why? I think the characters in the third book are flat and often nonsensical. The main character, Katniss, makes a controversial decision that – even based solely on her actions within book three and ignoring her choices in the previous books – just doesn’t make sense. I understand the reason for it, but any complexity of the character is ignored.

This is true in any number of ongoing series. If we look back to the television series “Friends,” this regression is easy to see in the main characters. Again, I should say that I really like “Friends” – my Tivo memory is almost full and at least 98 percent of that space is devoted to reruns of the show. Which has only made it more obvious that the characters get less and less developed with each passing season.

Take Joey Tribbiani, for example. In season one, Joey is less educated than his friends – he never paid attention in high school or went to college – and a bit of a meathead. That’s fine. He also fills the role of the “pretty but stupid” friend. Again, that’s fine. At least it’s fine at the beginning, when he also has other personality traits. In the first few seasons, Joey is working to make it as an actor. This continues throughout the show, but the drive he shows at the beginning and the willingness to learn get overshadowed by his utter stupidity. He is made into a caricature of the person he was at the beginning.

That bugs me.

I am definitely not an author or a screen writer. I have tried multiple times to write a book and can’t even get past the first paragraph, much less the first novel and onto multiple sequels. I respect the motivation and creativity that takes.

But it still bugs me.

The book “Catching Fire” recycled a lot of the themes from “The Hunger Games” and, to me, was left wanting. It was still enjoyable, but the anxiety and isolation that fueled the first book were nearly nonexistent. I am looking forward to seeing how they portray the events in a movie format, but I am assuming that solely based on plot I will not enjoy it as much as the first.

That won’t stop me from being first in line to find out.