Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
3/5 stars

The Hunger Games takes place in a future dystopic North America, where (as penalty for a previous rebellion) each of the twelve districts is required to give up two randomly selected teenagers to the participate in a televised fight to the death. The story is told, in a first person point of view, by Katniss, the female competitor from the poor District 12. She and her fellow competitor, Peeta, are wined and dined in the Capitol, primped and preened for the audience, and then finally dropped into the arena to kill and hopefully survive. Various alliances are formed, competitors are brutally murdered, and in the end a rebellious statement is made to the ruling Capitol.

The plot is generally compelling, and I found myself reading on even as I was unconvinced by it. (For example, District 12 has around 8000 people, the size of a small town, and yet it digs enough coal to fuel all 12 Districts and the Capitol?) There is enough drama, brutality and anxiety to make even a slightly interested reader curious as to the outcome, but our heroes kept getting off easy, not having to make the compelling life and death decisions that the other contestants were making; things just worked out around them. Then comes the end and it's a cliffhanger of sorts, a "buy my next book" ending, if you will, instead of just wrapping it up. I didn't appreciate that obvious ploy.

I have never been a fan of stories told in the "simple present" verb tense, and the author shifts subtly here and there, unable to keep it up herself, creating a distracting method of storytelling that takes away from the actual story. Granted, this is a YA book, and the intended audience might not be so grammatically picky, but it was a problem for this reader.

Katniss herself was not, to me, a sympathetic character. Her moods and personalities were too extreme; she felt like a larger than life character, rather than a believable hero. Peeta was easier for me to sympathize with, even though he is only seen through the eyes of Katniss. He came across less of a stock character and more real. Many other characters (just for instance: Prim, beloved by everyone; Gale, the boy that is good at everything; Rue, the ethereal fairy child) seemed very much like stock characters, seen in most fantasies, fairy tales and moral stories.

Overall, the story Ms. Collins is telling is certainly an interesting one, but there were just enough snags in it to keep me from finding it a good read.

Side Note: My husband disagreed.

Note: This is my opinion; on Amazon, 72% of the reviews are 5 stars.


  1. People have been RAVING about this book. I still haven't read it. I think this is the one of the only reviews that I have read that had some negative light, which I like. Gives me more of an idea of what it'll be like. Thanks for sharing!

  2. It was loaned to me by a very good friend--well by Deb Hamel who does the Sunday Salon--and she devoured it. I felt really bad that I didn't like it, respecting her opinion like I do, plus all the positive reviews on Amazon. I kept thinking there must be something wrong with me, but. . .I just wasn't swept away by it. Pretty much everyone else has been, though, so. . . It could just be me. :P

  3. Eh, it's a fun read. Don't expect too much and you're good. :) But if you didn't enjoy this one that much, I wouldn't advise you to keep reading; I think the first volume is the strongest in this trilogy. I don't think Katniss is supposed to be very likable though.

  4. I'm certainly not interested enough to finish the series.

    It wasn't that she wasn't likable (Humbolt Humbolt wasn't likable) but I wasn't able to be sympathetic to her (and Nabokov make me able to sympathize with Humbolt); if that makes any sense. It's hard to explain! :p