Hunger Games Book Review
In light of the upcoming release of the movie adaption of the Hunger Games, I thought that it would be an appropriate time to review the source material. The novel, by Suzanne Collins, was first released in 2008 and in the wake of Twilight and Harry Potter has become something of phenomena since. It’s one of those books that when you mention it to the right crowd of people (ages 15-20ish), you are immediately mobbed by questions like “Have you read it yet?!?” and pleas to check it out because, “it’s so good that I read it in one night!” (ehm, Stephanie Meyer).
While the first book is fun and enjoyable, some of the hype can be attributed to the fact, as a keen internet poster noted, that the books are something of a ”rebound” series for many heartbroken fans, filling the gaping hole caused by the conclusion of the beloved Twilight and Potter books.
A little context and analysis: if you don’t like any spoilers (I’m talking to you, people who avoid reading the back cover!), then stop reading this and start reading the book!
If you are out-of-the-loop book is set in a “post-apocalyptic” America, where only a few cities (known as districts) exist, all of which are controlled by the cruel and vengeful Capitol. The protagonist and narrator is Katniss Everdeen, a young woman hardened by a tough life, and who will do whatever it takes to care for those she loves. One of the ways the Capitol control the districts is though the Hunger Games, where teenagers are selected from each district to battle to the death in a large arena, while the residents of the Capitol watch the mayhem on television. As you would expect, Katniss is a participant in the games and the second half of the book is what happens to her in the arena.
The story hearkens William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, with adolescents chasing each other through forests and killing each other without any sensible adults to stop the violence. Unlike Golding’s story however, there isn’t a whole lot of depth here; the story is exciting and the killing can be jarring, but when I finished it, it just felt like a fun ride. There were some creative images and details that added to the story, like the interview with Caesar Flickerman and Katniss’ relationship with her stylist.
Some parts of the story seemed a little ridiculous to me, like the teen romance-drama that occurred in the arena, but what bothered me more than anything was that the author never seemed to address what I thought was the elephant in the room: would Katniss commit a terrible act in order to guarantee her survival? Instead, the author completely sidestepped the issue, with Katniss only attacking those who attacked her first and other participants getting conveniently knocked out. At the end, Katniss seemed to cruise through the games without having to face that terrible choice. To me, this is either just laziness or, by forcing uncomfortable situations to not occur, authorial cowardice.
I love dystopian and post-apocalyptic literature, so it was really fun to read this book and I will eventually finish up the series (I am currently about halfway done with the final book, Mockingjay). If you want a quick and easy read with a fun plot, then check out the book, just don’t expect much more than that.