Same problems with this book as I had with the 2nd of the trilogy (Catching Fire): thinly imagined story world beyond the immediate circumstances of tSame problems with this book as I had with the 2nd of the trilogy (Catching Fire): thinly imagined story world beyond the immediate circumstances of the Hunger Games and the reality-TV entertainment hoopla surrounding them. There is some painting in of District 13, and some advancement of the trilogy's themes of children lost in war, fighting oppression, and love and loyalty, but ... well, I didn't find it very imaginatively imagined... not up to the level of the first book.
Sorry. I became pretty badly bored about a quarter of the way through (especially by the love triangle stuff — boring adolescent/young adult heterosexual love triangles are not my genre of choice, just one reason I will never read or see the movies of the Twilight series). The war was pretty confusingly dreary & depressing too — wars are depressing & dreary anyway, but if one's got to be fought, hey, have the organization & strategy of them at least make some sense, please.
I had to force myself to read it all the way through. It read as though Suzanne Collins was as bored writing it, as I was reading it. Glad for both of us that we can go on to other things now....more
Catching Fire continues to explore themes central to its predecessor The Hunger Games, but not much new is added, nothing really compelling, no new diCatching Fire continues to explore themes central to its predecessor The Hunger Games, but not much new is added, nothing really compelling, no new discoveries. It was readable. That's about it.
In particular: I said in my review of The Hunger Games that the world-building a little thin in some areas. That thinness became a lot more apparent in this book. The fictional nation of Panem — somehow, in a way never very well explained, a surviving remnant of North America (presumably the U.S.) — is made up of the Capitol and its 12 outlying (and subject) districts, plus a 13th district that was supposedly destroyed during a rebellion about 75 years ago. But they all could have just been little beads on a string for all the sense of place or geography or realness that I got from them; and that also left the characters, who came out of those places, without any strong sense of a place, a life, a history from which they came.
A richly imagined story comes out of a richly imagined world. I was disappointed in both here, especially after the promise of the first book. ...more
I finally saw the movie with my kid a month or so ago, and bought the trilogy via Kindle. The movie proved to have been quite faithful to the book, anI finally saw the movie with my kid a month or so ago, and bought the trilogy via Kindle. The movie proved to have been quite faithful to the book, and I found both of them to be exiting, involving, and fresh.
That's within the understanding that The Hunger Games is essentially young adult science fantasy (which is what I call "science fiction" that plays the science loosely). I have some different expectations of young adult fiction than of "adult" fiction — I'm not going to analyze the differences in this brief review (especially since I'm having trouble verbalizing them).
But one expectation goes for ANY fiction for ANY age level: make it a good story. And this story meets that. Katniss is also an interesting protagonist: intelligent, resourceful, and caring — she volunteers for the Hunger Games in place of her 12-year-old sister, fully expecting to die in her place — but far, yes very far, from perfect or simplistically heroic. And not immune to the late adolescent wrestlings with questions of love, which not surprisingly are deeply complicated by the oppressive and violent situation in which she finds herself.
I wouldn't recommend The Hunger Games for the delicate of heart: there's a fair bit of violence and gore, which one would expect from a novel about 24 kids from 12 districts being chosen as sacrificial "tributes" who are essentially updated gladiators in an arena from which only one can emerge alive -- all in the name of (1) paying for a long-ago rebellion against the capital city and (2) entertainment. The chipper "reality TV" entertainment trappings surrounding the brutal life-or-death arena battle provides a major fascination — as a writer, I really appreciate the imagination that went into that, and in Collins' portrayal of how the Hunger Games and even the mind-frakking contradiction between "entertainment" and "death" are used to oppress not only the populations of the 12 districts, but of the Capitol as well. Examine that, how about: and then take a look at how the same factors play in the world we live in now.
(Though in some other ways I found the worldbuilding a little thin.)
I went on to read the other two books in the trilogy too. Didn't like them as well, but this one I might re-read one day. ...more
This is one of the first novels to explore the concept of space elevators, & for that reason was a must-read for me. It's a Hugo & Nebula AwarThis is one of the first novels to explore the concept of space elevators, & for that reason was a must-read for me. It's a Hugo & Nebula Award winner -- this is the legendary Arthur C. Clarke, after all -- but it's stronger on the science/engineering side of things than on characters or social realities... just enough for me to dock a star, since that kind of verisimilitude is important to me as a reader (& a writer). I'm not saying Clarke's hamhanded on characterization or society, exactly, just not so strong as he is on the ideas out of hard science. But I read this book mostly for the space elevator science anyway, so it's all good....more