I read this in one sitting, and then a few days later read it again just for fun. Perhaps I have some latent bloodlust lurking somewhere in my psyche.I read this in one sitting, and then a few days later read it again just for fun. Perhaps I have some latent bloodlust lurking somewhere in my psyche. Comparisons to Takami's Battle Royale (and the cult film adaptation by Fukasaku) are inevitable. The dystopian conceit -- a corrupt government punishing its citizens by sentencing children to fight each other to death in a public spectacle -- is almost exactly the same in Hunger Games. However, I guess it is hard to find a story that doesn't remind you of another story. Still...hmmm, Suzanne Collins, hmmm.
Hunger Games provides a nice update to the Battle Royale idea and is a perfect fit for teenagers who have grown up in the era of The Real World and The Hills. I caught the first episode of Real World Season 283 a few years back and was struck by how stale it had become. Producers must be hard pressed to find show applicants who haven't seen the first 200 seasons, so the kids who show up are so meta its ridiculous. On the first day, two girls started making out in the hot tub while wondering who among the guys they had just met must be the token gay character. (Show editors must be tearing their eyes out in hopes of any legitimate story arcs). Hey, look at me, I'm so outrageous!
Of course, there is more at stake in the Hunger Games arena than in the Real World house of debauchery. What most interested me in this book was how heroine Katniss used her accumulated knowledge of the Hunger Games, having watched it every year growing up, to manipulate her status and progress in the games. She is aware at every moment that she is on camera and does her best to use this knowledge as a weapon -- one arguably more effective than her skill with a bow and arrow.
Katniss's first person narrative gives the story its immediacy and sense of excitement; however, I actually feel that this sole perspective limited the complexity of the book. It would have been fascinating to have also had Haymitch's perspective or perhaps some behind-the-scenes gamemaker's interpretation of events.
Finally, it cannot be denied that the book ended REALLY abruptly. I know it is the first of the series, and yes I am left wanting more, but this book felt really unbalanced. I am more impressed when books in a series both work together and also stand alone as complete works.
Still, sign me up to read the next one! Get cracking, Suzanne!...more
Forget The DaVinci Code, Umberto Eco did it first. This murder mystery set within the arcane world of monks living in 1327 is densely layered with ChrForget The DaVinci Code, Umberto Eco did it first. This murder mystery set within the arcane world of monks living in 1327 is densely layered with Christian history, medieval trivia, and a whole lot of gore. It is fascinating to read something set nearly 700 years ago, and yet written with a modern writer's cognizance. Our hero, William of Baskerville (Sherlock's hound perhaps?), relies on deductive reasoning to reveal the equally cunning mastermind behind all the murders at the abbey. Our narrator, Adso, struggles to find his way as he walks the line between his faith, which is all he has known during his short life as a novice monk, and his reason, which is cultivated by his new mentor. Admittedly, some of the author's digressions into papal politics take stamina, but Eco never abandons the pulse of weird events taking place at the abbey. (There is a very useful list of characters on Wikipedia that I wish I'd found when reading page 1 instead of page 500. So many to keep track of!)...more