I’m going to go ahead and say nobody has ever had a problem with the straight plot of a story. We are willing to suspend our collective disbelief to the point where it’s not the existence of Hunger Games themselves that don’t make sense, it’s whether a teenager is in love with one teenager or another teenager or neither teenager that makes us confused and angry. That has nothing to do with plot and everything to do with storytelling. Give us context and we will argue with it, but give us a straight story and we’ll live happily.
This is why every book should be replaced by its Wikipedia plot summary.
I discovered this after watching some show in which they make a joke about The Cider House Rules and abortion, and despite having definitely paid rapt attention to a summer camp production of the play, I remembered no such plot. The Wikipedia page takes five paragraphs to explain everything and uses phrases like “traumatic misadventure with a prostitute” and “She eventually becomes an electrician and takes a female lover, Lorna.” In five paragraphs we see exactly how Homer turns from naive moralist to reluctant abortionist. How long did it take John Irving?
Do not make me decipher your intent. Do not assume allegorical common ground. Do not make me pay attention to your god damn motif. Tell don’t show, like Wikipedia.
There are books I could never fully love because I thought the characters were too stupid for their own good, books that gave me the literary equivalent of “don’t run up the stairs!” Wuthering Heights, perfect example. Instead of the infuriating back and forth over why Catherine and Heathcliff can’t just get over themselves and be together, it’s put plainly. “Catherine confesses to Nelly that Edgar has proposed and she has accepted, although her love for Edgar is not comparable to her love for Heathcliff, whom she cannot marry because of his low social status and lack of education.” Boom, easy. It’s 1845 or something, marriage is not for love.
You may think me joyless, but you know what’s really joyless? Reading a story that could have been 300 pages shorter if Heathcliff and Cathy just freakin’ talked to each other. Wikipedia summaries get rid of all that. There is no arguing with a plot; it is as close as we come to fact in fiction. When reading the Hunger Games you can yell at the uncaring pages for days over whether you think Katniss should choose Peeta or Gale or be mad at Gale for being a jerk or Peeta for being boring. On Wikipedia, you do not get to argue about anything because that’s just what happened.
Do not give me options. Do not give me a way to disagree with you. Just tell me what is and move on.