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Suzanne Collins' 'The Hunger Games': A Review

Updated on August 20, 2012
The Hunger Games (Book 1)
The Hunger Games (Book 1)

This is the first novel in the series.

 

Pages: 374

Rating: **** 1/2

Generally, I try to avoid trendy books (Twilight, Harry Potter, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) because it seems that they run the risk of being style over substance. So naturally, when 'The Hunger Games' film started being advertised, I brushed it off and didn't give it a second thought. However, when I started getting massive interest and requests from those reading my reviews (See, I DO listen to you) I couldn't deny the impact the story was having on my friends' lives. I was lucky enough to find a very decently priced used copy and sat down with what I anticipated as a drawn out snooze fest. What I didn't expect was to be completely gripped by an outstanding tale of courage and survival that easily turned me from a skeptic into a believer. I'm not saying the novel doesn't have it's faults, but I can appreciate examples of fine, easy storytelling such as this.

The scene is set in Panem. A small country that exists in post apocalyptic North America. The Capitol city rules over twelve individual mid evil districts with a sinister dictatorship full of unfair rules and unnatural laws. If that wasn't bad enough, the Capitol holds the annual Hunger Games to remind the districts how absolutely powerless they are against the Capitol. In the Games, each district must sacrifice one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to complete. 24 total players are then dropped into an arena and forced to fight to the death. Not only do the combatants have to fight each other, but the elements, viscous traps and starvation as well. The player left standing earns the right to return to their district where they can live as champions, free from The Hunger Games forever.

Katniss Everdeen is 16 and doing her best to keep her family alive. Hunting illegally and trading in the dangerous black market barely support her invalid mother and little sister Primrose. Having just turned 12, Primrose is now eligible to be selected to play the Games. Katniss' world is flipped upside down when Primrose is drawn to represent her district. Without hesitation, Katniss boldy steps up and volunteers to take her place. Thinking her death is all but certain, she feels at ease with the knowledge that her family is safe for at least one more year. Once back at the Capitol, the 24 players go through a rigorous routine of training, interviews and etiquette to help build the hype for the competition. The games are a televised event. The rich citizens bet on which player will win, while the poor are forced to watch their friends and family be sent to their doom like sheep to the slaughter. Katniss is immediately faced with bloodshed and the realization of the task at hand really sets in. Does she have what it takes to win? Or will the Hunger Games swallow her whole?

Collins has done a great job building a tale that's exciting and suspenseful. To call it a page turner is an understatement. I was drawn in from page one and I couldn't put the book down. WIth a lack of foul language, and a thin layer of blood, this novel is perfect for young teenaged readers. Katniss is incredibly easy to identify with as the underdog, devoted family hero. Intelligent, quick and honest, she has a knack for endearing people to her cause. I noticed that Katniss is actually very lucky. There are a couple of instances where she's backed into a corner and escapes through the merciful actions of others. She's lucky to have found an unlikely ally, and lucky she made a good impression with the Games viewers. There are only two real flaws that I noticed with the novel. First is Collins' lack of descriptions. I know that the point is to make my own judgements about what characters look like, but I still want something to go on. I see the actors cast for the film and most of them are opposite of what I had imagined. I had maybe three characters that match, seeing as how Collins was involved in casting, I wonder how close the physical came to what she had dreamed up. Secondly, the story is predictable. Collins' attempts to surprise the readers are horribly foreshadowed. I figured that Katniss was not the name originally called, that she would get far in the games, and that her ally wouldn't survive. As sad as I was to see this person die, it was clearly inevitable. I will admit I was surprised by the final outcome. It was the single twist that I didn't see coming.

I'm going to break my own rules and give this story four and a half stars. The fast paced addicting story was truly a joy to read. The story's predictability is that last little hurdle that kept the book from achieving a perfect score. As I'm writing this review, I'm already deep into the sequel, so to say the book didn't leave a good impression would be a gross understatement. I also plan on watching the film version, maybe I'll write a little something afterward to compare the two. If you're unsure, by all means, read the book. It certainly left me hungry for more.

Read the book or watch the movie?

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    • YimmyP profile imageAUTHOR

      James Pagatpatan 

      6 years ago from Washington State

      Certainly! It was a quick read. I finished it in about two days.

    • Barnsey profile image

      Barnsey 

      6 years ago from Happy Hunting Grounds

      Great review, now I simply must read it before seeing the movie! ThanX!

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