Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

hgTitle: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)

Author: Suzanne Collins

Publisher: Scholastic

Source: Purchased

Check this book out at Goodreads.

Buy this book at: Chapters | Book Depository

4 stars

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, the shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh 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 on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen 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 dead 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. (Source: Goodreads)

In Panem there are 12 districts surrounding the Capitol. The Capitol holds all the power. Each year they host a Hunger Games, wherein each district sends two tributes to fight to the death. Katniss Everdeen is this year’s tribute, stepping in to save her sister. Katniss doubts her own skills but turns out to be quite the contender, forging a few alliances and friendships along the way. Her alliance with Peeta Mellark, the baker’s boy from District 12, may help her survive but she doesn’t want to owe him any more than she already does. Who will survive the Hunger Games?

Yes, I’m only just reading The Hunger Games now. I am not really into the whole dystopian trend, not because it’s trending, lord knows I was into the vampire trend before, but just because I just have trouble getting into dystopia stuff. That’s not to say I don’t read dystopian novels, but I’m just not as into them. I decided to read The Hunger Games after rewatching the movie and thinking “this is all so poorly explained”. So I read the book, and boy was I right. The movie, at least the first one, was not very good. The book on the other hand was great. So yeah, I’m jumping on the bandwagon now.

The plot of this book has been compared to Battle Royale many times. I haven’t read them both, but I am aware of the plot of Battle Royale. So yes, The Hunger Games isn’t a wholly unique concept, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a rip off, they’re both very different stories. I think there’s something to be said about a plot that in two different books, with different twists and intricacies, still carries the same impact. This idea of authoritarian regimes forcing youth into acts of violence means something to us, it resonates with us. So really two books with similar plots existing? Oh no, like that’s never been done before! Anyway, the plot of this book is great. The whole world is well built, with the district system, the government control, the games, it’s all thought out and well presented. The movement of the story is well paced, sometimes a little slow, but that’s probably just because I saw the movie first (which was too fast). The acts of violence are horrifying, the idea is hard to wrap your head around sometimes, but I think recent events in our own world really help to make this terror feel so much more real.

The only character you really get to know in this book is Katniss. I think this is one of the few faults of this book. You don’t really know anyone else. You know Katniss well, the book is in first person, so you get her words from her. This means you know her intimately, you know how she thinks and feels. This is something you lose in the movie and wind up not knowing anyone. The problem is, in the book, you only know Katniss. You connect with Peeta on some level, but you don’t know him. This works well because Katniss doesn’t know anyone either, she can’t really know anyone, and it make sense for her not to make any effort to know anyone. It makes sense with the plot, yes, but it’s also very isolating and makes the book feel somewhat unformed. You should be able to know something about someone else. That being said, I think Katniss is well written, her development is excellent, though I think Collins relies on the confused little girl card a little too much sometimes, which stunts development. I found Peeta and Cinna likeable but distant, people I didn’t know but wanted to. Overall the characters were well written though a little hard to know.

I liked the writing. I think it fit Katniss’s voice well. It wasn’t highly emotional or flowery so it worked well with an uneducated girl of 16 who is a little too preoccupied to be getting into high level prose when discussing her current situation. I think, coming from watching the movie, it also made me appreciate how much more there was to the book. The story was better told, the characters better written, the voice clear and well formed.

I really enjoyed this book. I think it’s one of the better dystopian novels I’ve read. It resonated with me in a way other have failed to do. I am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Ramble on,

Have you read The Hunger GamesLet me know your thoughts in the comments!
Check out Suzanne Collins at her website.
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