Monday, September 7, 2009

Open Letter to Jennifer Reeves, Reviewer at EW:

To Jennifer Reeves, journalist at Entertainment Weekly Magazine and recent reviewer of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins who gave the fabulous novel a grade of "C":

As a fellow reviewer of books and someone who understands that going against the masses with your opinion can be difficult, I still have zero understanding for your review of Catching Fire. Like many of the readers who left you comments, I have a hard time believing that you thoroughly read this book. It seems more like a skim-job than a detailed reading, and even after your opening quote, "In between romantic daydreams, Katniss shot strange beasts, dodged force fields, and battled murderous zombie werewolves — usually while wearing fabulous glitzy outfits," I'm not even convinced you read The Hunger Games, let alone Catching Fire. Reeves, Katniss wore ONE glitzy outfit to her interview in the Capitol, and never killed any "strange beasts" while in that outfit, and the only force field I can recall in the first novel is the one surrounding the roof of the Capital building. So right off the bat, you are inaccurate and losing credibility with Hunger Fans. (The fact that you keep calling the muttations "werewolves" is also annoying, but again, I will even let your opening comments slide because the bulk of your review is so inaccurate, we most devote the rest of this letter to clarify your ignorance.)

You go on to rant and rave over the conflict Katniss has between loving both Peeta and Gale and go on to state your confusion between this rivalry because their is "little distinction between the two thinly imagined guys, other than the fact that Peeta has a dopier name." If you would have read the FIRST novel, and closely studied the second book (which you are being paid to review), you would have learned valuable back-story information on both boys that gives each character depth and complexity. Both boys are in no way "thinly imagined" and Collins has given them both detailed internal conflict and vivid characterization -so much so, that it is impossible for me not to feel Katniss's struggle in "choosing" between them. Peeta's "dopier name" has little significance in the differences between himself and "brooding" Gale, as you referred to him, so again, go back and read the chapters to see what I am talking about.

And to get to the most irritating line in your interview - why in the world you want a book about fighting for survival to mirror the "erotic energy that makes Twilight so creepily alluring" is beyond me! Is Twilight the ONLY young adult novel you have read prior to reading Catching Fire, because Collins makes it a point to let readers know that ROMANCE, let alone EROTIC ENERGY has no place in Katniss's world. She has to kill her daily meals, for goodness sakes! Would you have time to pine for a boy while you are skinning a deer or de-feathering a turkey? Fighting for your life puts "erotic energy" on the back-burner for Katniss, I would think.

Finally, it is this line in your review that thoroughly convinces me that you did not read this book:
"The author describes her wearing a series of Cher-worthy costumes in which she confronts poisonous mists, deranged monkeys, and a flock of ''candy pink'' birds equipped with long beaks used to skewer human necks."

Katniss wears ONE costume that might fit your "Cher-worthy" criteria, and it was to the opening ceremonies. Her arena outfit, to quote directly from Catching Fire, is "a fitted blue jumpsuit, made of very sheer material, that zippers up the front. A six-inch padded belt covered in shiny purple plastic. A pair of nylon shoes with rubber soles." I'm a little too young to recall all of Cher's past outfits, but I'm going out on a limb to say that a blue jumpsuit lacks the sex appeal of a Cher ensemble. Although there are poisonous mists and muttation monkeys, the "birds with long beaks used to skewer human necks" were NOT in Katniss's arena. Those of us who read the book know that the birds are mentioned when Katniss and Peeta are watching tapes from Haymitch's victory in the Quell. Do you know what the Quarter Quell is? Great stuff, this is. You should read more about it in this great novel I just finished, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

Jennifer, I'm sure you are a fabulous writer and can write circles around little ole' me, but here is some advice: when reviewing a highly-anticipated and popular book, save the skimming for the crap most of us will never pick up to read. Your supporting facts for your opinions and references to the work itself should be spot-on and accurate. Journalism 101. And to Entertainment Weekly, if you would like reviewers who actually READ what they review, give me a shout!


  1. Hey Lenzi,

    Love your letter to EW, I agree completely. I saw CF at the bookstore, picked it up (as I just read HG 3 weeks ago) and read it in 4 hours. I didn't move--it was heartcracklingly (oops not a word) good. I loved HG, I love this book, hated the review from a website I usually love. I too noticed her discrepancy with the pink birds. So thank you for your letter, for your blog (which looks great) and a southern hello to you from Oklahoma!

  2. Thank you, Bailey! I'm glad you are on The Hunger Games and Catching Fire bandwagon!

  3. Thanks for this!
    That review was terrible, there is no way she read the book. (I guess its possible she was really drunk or high while reading it but I still think a drunk would remember the Quarter Quell) I hope someone from EW reads this and makes a policy that reviews have to read the book they are reviewing.