Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #1
Genre: YA, dystopian
Published on September 14, 2008
Published by Scholastic
Pages: 374
Read From: 1.16.12 - 1.17.12

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death. 
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before - and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.


Like with all popular books, I was dubious about this one. Most popular stories are like Twilight or the Inheritance Cycle - badly written, cardboard characters (or no characters at all), an absolute absence of story, and, in the case of Eragon, plagiarized. But there are, on the rare occasion, popular books that are actually good. And this is one of them.

Now, this isn't the best "totalitarian-government-rules-the-world" story I have read, nor is the writing style something to pin a medal to. But the writing is not bad, either - the present tense actually works fairly well, - and the story is a pretty original idea. The Author could have made the book a lot darker (and therefore a lot better), but it's pretty creepy as it is. The Reader can be assured that this is a story where practically everyone dies (form attachments to characters carefully; they have a 90/10 percent chance of dying in the next chapter), but the Author doesn't go into unnecessary gory detail about their deaths - except maybe two, but I wouldn't exactly peg "unnecessary" on them. And it seems that Suzanne Collins actually researched survival skills and techniques!

Katniss is also a triumph as a strong heroine. She's believable, she's likable, she's someone you want to win. She is a heroine that an Author needs to be careful writing about, because she could so easily develop a Macho Woman attitude. But Suzanne made smart choices in not giving her a mouth, having her primary weapon be a bow, so she relied on swiftness and not raw physical strength, and making her woods smart.

I really enjoyed The Hunger Games. It is quite interesting, with good characters, and a little scary - what story about a totalitarian government isn't? But the Author glorifies nothing of what the Capitol does - indeed, she casts it in a properly bad light, - thus it's a read that I don't think sends the wrong messages to younger Readers, as some seem to think, nor is it unnecessarily graphic in any way. I am concerned, though, that the sequels are not as good. I'm sensing a possible love triangle between Katniss, Gale, and Peeta. And while both Peeta and Gale are equally likable boys, love triangles tend to ruin that.

Fingers crossed!

Others in This Trilogy:
1)The Hunger Games
2)Catching Fire

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