PROS: - Engaging. - Fast-paced. - Brilliant world-building. - Brilliant storytelling. - Great commentary on society, exploitation, capitalism, and current...morePROS: - Engaging. - Fast-paced. - Brilliant world-building. - Brilliant storytelling. - Great commentary on society, exploitation, capitalism, and current-day social issues. - Good blend of Greek mythology (minotaur), modern day, and Battle Royale. - Like watching a good action/sci-fi film.
CONS: - Cliffhanger in the end. I love cliffhangers if the story continues but I had to find a con and this is the only "flaw" I could find in the book.
COMMENTS: I don't think very many people enjoy reading about children fighting each other, much less to the death. Let me tell you now: this book is not meant to appease anyone's comfort. You are 100% guaranteed to feel uncomfortable at one point or another unless you're a sadist.
The book is a well thought out commentary on how ignorant and desensitized humanity has become what with the way they glue themselves to the television screens, watching mindless "reality" television shows. It's calling people out on the exploitation and it's supposed to make people realize the horror of using other people's pain for their own entertainment, reality or not, child or adult. There are shows where kids are being exploited because their parents have them pit against each other to win $50 grand (I Know My Kids [sic] A Star). Or the show where 40 children compete against each other to win $10-50 grand (Kid Nation).
Not only that, I love how Collins manages to make it clear that if the cosmetic "beauty" industry continues the path they're on, society morals and ethics will follow suit. If people are unhappy with their skin tone, they can turn it neon green. If people are unhappy with the way their skin feels, they can make their skin satiny with advanced plastic surgery. If people want to draw attention to themselves and a tux isn't enough, add fire. The author makes people realize how much our society cares about the way people look instead of caring about the way people are. The world has replaced character-building with an image-obsessed business (as it is today). You see that throughout the book.
I cannot fully express how happy I am to finally see a solid, independent and intelligent female character (who is a person of color!!!) take the lead in a bestseller, especially in the Young Adult genre. Today, there are plenty of white male leads for young men to look up to: Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Eragon, and Percy Jackson to name a few. Where will you find a woman of color lead whose mission isn't to look for love? Not a whole lot of places to look. I love how Katniss is willing to sacrifice herself for her family and how she isn't willing to sacrifice all of herself for the sake of the government. At least, not without consequences. She's willful but she isn't without flaws. Katniss is a good person to look up to and young adults could learn a lot from her, especially young women.
Besides the incredible societal ties to our world, Panem's world-building is absolutely incredible. Goods from poor states are sent to The Capitol which are sold for profit and to benefit the people in The Capitol. If a laborer "steals", they pay a high price. What most people don't understand is that this is actually happening today, right now. Coca Cola, Starbucks, Marlboro, your clothes, your tea—it's being harvested by children and families in fields and people die in those fields. And when they get home, they get terrorized and tortured by similar police officers that you read about in THG. With this book, there's an excellent commentary about exploitation of labor that's Marxist-like in narrative. It brings to light the issues happening today that not enough people know about.
For this, I love dystopian novels and I love how realistic this novel feels. I haven't been able to hang on to every word since Harry Potter. The writing is great and the storytelling is captivating. Collins did what she set out to do and executed it with success. I'm glad she continued with sequels and that this series won't be ten books long. I thank the author for gifting us with this series and can't wait to see how Katniss outsmarts The Capitol in Catching Fire.
JAN 2014 EDIT: I was extremely disappointed with the film. They failed to illustrate the desensitization the way Collins has and trivialized it into a film about teen romance. I asked my friends and peers what they thought about it and they said they didn't even know that The Games were being filmed and broadcasted on television after I'd explained why The Games existed and what it entailed. Not only that, KATNISS. IS NOT. WHITE. HOLY SHIT. And NOBODY understood where The Capitol got their shit and who was being oppressed for it and JUST HOW BAD CORPORATE EXPLOITATION REALLY IS. I just can't. (less)