Wendy's Reviews > The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
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's review
Dec 07, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: 2010-reads, young-adult, sci-fi, dystopian, 2012-reads
Read in April, 2012

UPDATED: With the movie coming out, I thought I'd do a revisit of this book. I've got to say, I didn't enjoy it as much the second time. I think this was partly because I had such high hopes for where the story could go the first time around, but after reading the other two books in the series and finding them so disappointing it taints my view of the whole trilogy.

Katniss is not as cool as she's presented to be. Sure she can hunt and she loves her little sister. But other than that, she's actually kinda clueless about things that should be pretty obvious (like what's going on with Peeta). I'd rather see a smart girl than a tough one in my YA books any day, but the more I read, the more naive girls I see and the more it bugs me.

Also, the more I think about the premise, the more upsetting I find it. Not just the fact that the games exist, because I get that the author could have something to say about violence as entertainment or the way people react to that. But the way the games are presented it makes the reader a party to this flawed system. Let's be honest here: If you find yourself rooting for Katniss and Peeta, like it or not you are wanting them to survive at the expense of all the other tributes. That means everyone else has to die! (If you want them to survive to bring the whole system down, well, there's problems there too. In the next books. And it still means everyone else has to die.)

It's bothersome to me that no one seems to have any qualms about participating in the games once they're there (unless they just have no shot at winning, then they run and hide). The "bad guys" in the arena conveniently dispose of the "good guys" so that Katniss, who is one of the "good" ones, never has to think about doing it herself. Yes, the career tributes could be seen as the enemy, but isn't the Capitol really at fault here overall? While I can see that overt rebellion would be punished, doesn't anyone consider a quiet revolt (not a picking-flowers revolt) even just giving up to not have to fight anyone else? I'd see more honor in that. (Actually, it might have been cool to have Peeta be all pacifist and have Katniss protecting him the whole time to try and save his life.) Instead we have a bad-circumstances-justify-doing-bad-things argument that, especially as it carries over into other parts of life, is a message with which I can't concur. Katniss herself never seems to wrestle with any moral issues, besides the occasional qualm about being fake-in-love with someone. Should that really occupy more of your thoughts than the what-if-I-have-to-kill-someone question?

While the violence is more off-screen, so to speak, there's no denying there's lots of death happening here in pretty horrific circumstances. It's not exactly a cheery read. And while I can see the appeal to young people, who may feel like adults are controlling and they have no say in what happens to them or the awful state they find the world in, does a fight to the death really reflect how most teens live their lives? Yes, school is rough, and people make alliances, but unless you're in some country where rebel factions impress you into military service and you really have to contemplate life and death issues because of it, I don't see how this book should resonate so much.

I'm sure many would disagree with me. But the more popular this series gets, the more I feel like its flaws should be pointed out.

ORIGINAL REVIEW: In the terrible world of Panem, the government flaunts its control of the 12 districts by requiring them to send one boy and one girl to the Hunger Games each year. There the tributes will be prepped and promoted before finally being put into a dangerous arena for a televised fight to the death.

Katniss, who since her father's death has been taking care of her family, volunteers to go to the Hunger Games in her younger sister's place. More than anything else, Katniss is practical. She sees little value in music and stories or in complaining about the things you can't change. She knows how to hunt and trade and do whatever it takes to survive. Which in this case involves pretending to be in love with the boy from her district in the hopes that they both will make it home.

I went into the book feeling unsure about the themes and ready to put it down if the Hunger Games got to be too much. I was scared it would be some sort of gladiator-like contest. But for the most part, it was more like a Survivor-style reality show taken to the extreme of truly eliminating contestants until only one is left. (It was a bit reminiscent of the Ender's books to me with the idea of children being put into extreme situations.)

The book is a fast read and held my attention, even though I kept accurately predicting what was being set up (and getting frustrated at Katniss for not seeing some things). While I got wrapped up in the story, I do object to the main premise and think there was a little too much resignation in everyone going along with these awful games. Perhaps that is addressed more in the rest of the trilogy. I'm curious to see where it goes. (UPDATED: Nowhere good!)
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Lidia (new)

Lidia I'm inclined to agree with your updated review. But thanks to the movie I have a new appreciation for Peeta and some other non main characters. Although I've re-read the books a few times it's popularity has started to make the flaws shine(new ones for me), but I have not completely written it off and unfanned(if I can make up a word) myself as of yet.

Wendy Peeta is very likeable. He's actually almost too perfect! I like Foxface, too, especially since her plans seem to be to go under the radar and just keep eating. I'm for that.

If all (or most, even) of the tributes just refused to fight, where would the games be? Then the folks in charge would have tricks to get people, but it would make them more solidly the bad guys. I do admit that the Capitol is at least legitimately bad, unlike a lot of dystopian reads where the powers that be are actually kinda lame.

I do also appreciate that in a book called The Hunger Games, there is a ton of focus on food. Which seems appropriate if you're a hunt-so-I-don't-starve kinda girl eating decadent Capitol fare for the first time.

Obviously I still have mixed feelings at least about the first book. The rest, I've always felt blech about.

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