Review: The Hunger Games

Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
First of a trilogy
by Suzanne Collins
published by Scholastic
original publication: 2009
size: 482KB (388 pages)
categories: young adult, science fiction
lending: not enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: yes
text-to-speech: yes

“Just answer the questions and try not to let the audience see how openly you despise them.”
–Haymitch Abernathy
The Hunger Games (location 1470)
by Suzanne Collins

There is something to be said about a book that makes you long for the opportunity to see what happens next.

The Hunger Games was one of those novels for me. In the car, at home, in the grocery store…I tend to skip around a lot between books, but this one held my focus.

When I’m reading, I want a lot of things, but two of the most important are plot and character. I don’t mean a complicated plot, and honestly, this isn’t that. We get a set up, and dive right in to swim to the end. There aren’t a bunch of twisty sub-plots, and in this case, that’s a good thing.

The book (and the reader) are most interested in one person: Katniss Everdeen, a teenager in a dystopian future. She tells the story and is the story. That’s significant: we don’t get a discordant non-character narrator. I was caught up in her thoughts and feelings, and was genuinely rooting for her.

She’s certainly flawed…although like a lot of teenage girls, not as flawed as she thinks she is. Her life has not been easy…and that has made her hard. In an odd way, she reminded me of Dorothy Gale in the original Wizard of Oz book: there is a practicality to her, a recognition that nothing is going to be handed to her.

However, part of the strength of the novel is that even characters with small parts to play are interesting. There are a lot of people involved: yes, we see them all in the way that they interact with Katniss, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t clearly have lives and values (and motivations) of their own.

There is always a risk with a science fiction novel that it becomes inaccessible to people who aren’t fans of the genre. There are elements here that will require that “willing suspension of disbelief”. If you aren’t going to be comfortable with mutant species, that may be a challenge. However, the people in the story are fully human…you’ll be able to relate to how they feel.

The world of the novel is reasonably believable, and we learn about its history in an integrated manner: we don’t have to stop and get an expository chapter to understand it, which is sometimes the case.

I did enjoy the novel, and I thought it was well-written. I’m looking forward to getting right into the next one, and reading the third before the movie is released on March 23rd.

MILD SPOILER ALERT

As to any content warnings: this is a violent novel. It is by no means what I call “gorenography”, though. People die, but we don’t get the deliberately-intended-to-gross-you-out details of many horror novels. This book is an adventure (or perhaps a trial), not a dissection. Sensitive and younger readers could have problems with it. Is there sexual content? Well, nudity is referred to several times , and there is kissing involved. The nudity isn’t actually encountered, but discussed as a possibility. I would say that…a ten-year old might have some questions, but I didn’t find the level offensive for a fairly mature teenager (and no, that’s not an oxymoron). ;)

END SPOILER

Eligible Prime  members, you can currently borrow this as one of your free loans. Remember that you need to get to the book on your Kindle itself and click a button that says “borrow”, not “buy”.

I welcome your comments, but please don’t say anything about the second and third books…until I tell you I’ve read them. :) My favorite thing in entertainment is to be surprised, and The Hunger Games managed that a few times. I would have preferred not to know there were sequels, because it did get me speculating about what happens in the next two. I was pleased that this didn’t end on a cliffhanger…it is a complete story, but I can see some places it might go.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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13 Responses to “Review: The Hunger Games”

  1. Valerie Says:

    I took advantage of the Prime lending to see what all the fuss was about. Good book. Definitely left me wanting more. The second one was the best of the series, to me anyway. Sorry if you see that as a spoiler. :)

    But I’ve read The Long Walk, Running Man and 1984 and couldn’t help but feel a little deja vu at times. Definitely have to agree that it’s a mature teen novel. But the good part was that it wasn’t only a teen novel. It had good character development – you really feel like you know all the players involved.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Valerie!

      No question that The Running Man occurred to me, as well. So did Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery…even Lord of the Flies. That doesn’t bother me, particularly…if a creative work stands just on its base idea, it may not be a full-fledged work. I wrote a modernized Sherlock Holmes…so have other people.

      http://ilmk.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/doctor-watsons-blog-a-kindle-abandoned-chapter-1/

      There’s room to explore that idea in different ways. The Running Man always seemed, to me, to perhaps have been inspired by Roger Corman’s Death Race 2000 (directed by Paul Bartel). However, I don’t expect the feel of The Hunger Games and Death Race 2000 to have much in common… :)

      Edited to add: oh, and I don’t think that knowing that many people think The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the original Star Wars trilogy spoils it…as long as it’s just the opinion. :) I prefer completely discovery, but I didn’t read this first one being unaware that people liked it.

  2. Zebras Says:

    Excellent review, Bufo! Run to read Part 2! I couldn’t put these down myself. I even tell people that I did not read YA novels when I was one (a young adult not a novel!), but these just feel like great books that happen to have young adults as the characters.

  3. Betty Rice Says:

    This is a great series! Loved it and cant wait for the movie. I never see the movies before reading the books.

  4. Review: The Hunger Games | How to get Free Kindle E books Says:

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  5. Morgan Says:

    I loved Hunger Games so much that I went in search of another book in that genre. I forget if “Divergent” by Veronica Roth and “The Underland Chronicles” by Suzanne Collins (same author as H.G.) were recommended by Amazon or if I plugged it into literature-map.com but either way, loved them nearly as much!

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