Caity's Reviews > The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
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's review
May 11, 2011

did not like it
Read on May 11, 2011

So, unlike some reviewers of this book, I was not repulsed by the premise, nor did I think this book was overly graphic or gratuitously violent. Before I commence my review, two things: 1) I am generally a fan of post-apocalyptic struggle-of-the-downtrodden literature, and 2) I am generally a fan of imposing female characters.

Now then.

I would agree with those who suggested that this book is Twilight in a Battle Royale setting. The characters are admittedly more likeable (although that's arguable), but that is overshadowed by the fact that this book stubbornly seems unable to admit that it's Twilight. The setting and the premise were interesting to me, and I was actually excited to find out what sort of strategy these kids could come up with to bring down the establishment. I guess the bringing down of the establishment will be in the second and third books, in which case I kind of wish Collins had condensed them all into one.

The problem is that the initially mildly intriguing setting and almost any and all possibilities that could arise from it are sacrificed to highlight the love triangle that permeates the book. Did the oppressed poorer District kids team up with each other against the Careers? No. Did Katniss struggle morally with having to kill or be killed? Not really. Do we find out anything much about any characters other than Katniss and Peeta? Very seldom. I wanted more Rue, more Thresh, I wanted Foxface's real name, even more Cato and Clove. Wasted characters, characters that could have brought out more interesting aspects of Katniss. I wanted to know more about these characters instead of hearing more of Katniss's monotonous inner monologue.

The absence of other characters' development bothers me just as much as their disposal. We don't even find out how a lot of them die. Rue is the only one who dies in a remotely dignified way, and then with flowers and embedded song lyrics Collins manages to make it ridiculous. One verse is enough, thank you.

And Katniss (and jeez, couldn't Collins have found a better plant to name her after?), admittedly badass, starts out in a semi-promising way, but then manages to disappoint by being completely oblivious not only to the fact that she is badass but that two handsome men are completely in love with her. She's presented as such a no-nonsense person, and then suddenly she's overcome with humility when frankness could mean the difference between life and death? And then after that she becomes gorgeous, gets an insanely high score in the skill tests, or whatever, that they have to do, and becomes a silly giggling girl in her interview. Then she manages to win the Hunger Games after killing only one tribute, under conveniently justified circumstances?


And the wolves at the end. Ridiculous. Cato dying with the pair of them barely having to lift a finger. Too perfect. The Gamekeeper's radical rule change, and then the revoking of said rule change. So predictable.

And also, under circumstances primed to teach valuable lessons or at least communicate one solid moral, Collins manages to teach none, even after killing off twenty-one teens and a tween.

I enjoyed Katniss's intuition about Haymitch's withholding/presenting of gifts, though I found the leaps she made sometimes questionable. I enjoyed Rue, for the short time she appeared (too short). I enjoyed Katniss's resourcefulness. But I wanted gore. Don't set up a battle royale and skip the juicy parts. I wanted character interaction. Relationships based on tenuous trust, common interests, mutual hatred, not two puppies who are so in obviously in love with our heroine the reader thinks her stupid not to know. I wanted them to bring down Big Brother. Why set up a landscape so prime for rebellion and not even have one? A double suicide pales in comparison to what Collins could have done with her world and her characters. I wanted more than flat characters and a dystopia that wasn't fleshed out enough. Sorry, when our badass heroine's most pressing ordeal is knowing how to kiss a cute boy at the right moment, I'm just not interested.

Everything in this book has been done before and done far better. The love triangle: Star Wars. The Divine Comedy. Hell, even Twilight. Too many to count. The staged Melee: Battle Royale. The Running Man. Countless anime. Even wolf-people were made captivating in John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things. But hey, if it gets kids to read, maybe they'll get around to something more intellectually stimulating.

This review is much longer than my others, probably because I can't really understand why everyone thinks this book is so frickin' great.

Quick update: I finally watched the first and second movie adaptations, and, I'll be honest, I loved the crap out of them. And I felt confused about that, because they're actually really faithful to the books, more so than a lot of book-to-film adaptations are. So how can I enjoy the narrative the movies are telling me so much, but have so many objections to the books?

I had a discussion with a friend of mine about this subject, and we came to the conclusion that it wasn't just because I tend to enjoy Jennifer Lawrence's performances. Not being privy to Katniss's inner thoughts actually takes the "young adult" out of the books. The paragraphs of primping become her appearing in a scene in a dress (for instance, the wedding dress. She just puts it on and walks out, instead of laboring over it). The long laments for Peeta's safety become instead active, perilous tasks. The absolute despair Katniss feels is palpable and heart-wrenching, rather than over-wrought. Katniss seems much more in control, and much more real, in the hand of Lawrence than in the hands of her original creator. In short, I guess I actually like the tale Collins has told; I just wish, on the page, she had told it another way.

I welcome further discussion on this subject. I'm still kind of surprised.
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Comments (showing 1-34 of 34) (34 new)

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I am Bastet I agree with everything you said.

和泉美優 I totally agree.

Lauren Luvsdinos I think this is a little extreme......

Danielle This is the best review I've read. I am reading a bunch of reviews because I'm too lazy to write my own. And because while I found this book riveting, I also found it to be just BAD and I can't even explain why. The only thing I can come up with is, it's just poor... such poor writing, such poor character development, inept descriptions and scene setting, etc. There is some amazing literature out there, it's too bad that everyone is hung up on this garbage. I think that's part of why I'm reading all these reviews- I'm reading the negative reviews because I need confirmation that there are still people with good taste left in this world (not to mention brains).

Ailish Thanks for your review. So true what you say about wasted characters. I really wanted to know more about the others too. I enjoy dystopian settings, and look for strong female characters, but I don't feel like I really found one here - I'm not sure that killing people in a 'nicer' way than the others and then justifying it to yourself after some token guilt demonstrates real inner strength.

message 6: by Leah (new)

Leah While I liked the book, I agree completely with everything you've said here. Great critique.

Steven Yeah. Agreed. Really don't understand how anyone outside the obvious target demographic can't see how irredeemably awful this book actually is.

message 8: by Ana (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ana I completly agree with you 100 percent! When I finished this novel I didn't like it as much as everyone else .But I didn't really know what bothered me about it. But after reading your review I relized that those were the things that bothered me! I don't understand why so many billions of people enjoyed it so much.

Hannah I'm not trying to be mean or anything but The Hunger Games is nothing like twilight I will admit the love triangle is like it. The Hunger Games is about survival and katniss trying to keep her loved ones alive. Twilight is about vampires and werewolves. I agree with you on learning more about the other characters but you have to realize it's in Katniss's point of view. You also have to realize that books will be alike in just the little ways it's not like The Hunger Games is about vampires and werewolves that would be exactly alike. I'm not trying to be all like hating on you but I just wanted to say that.

Carmine Sirianni I was going to write a review of my own but no need. You have said it all.

message 11: by Isabel (new)

Isabel I am Isis wrote: "I agree with everything you said."

I agree with the person above me. ;D

Michaela Shelynn Simms Great review, summed. it all up. Though I personally did find it a bit disturbing! lol

Aaven Awesome review. I enjoyed the book, but I certainly had some issues with it and you summed them up quite nicely.

Honestly, I don't quite understand how this book managed to attract such a massive, almost religious fan following in such a short period of time. It's certainly not a bad book, but the stores are putting it on a pedestal like it's the next Harry Potter. I can't even walk into my local Barnes and Noble without tripping over countless shelves of Hunger Games t-shirts, posters, book guides, etc. Perhaps it's the movie?

Anyway, great review, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees some of the flaws here :)

Nichole "Why set up a landscape so prime for rebellion and not even have one?" Because there is more than one book? A rebellion is the center of the rest of the story.

message 15: by Hexe (new)

Hexe Thank you for this detailed review! I've just seen the movie and thought maybe the book does some more explaining on the moral compass on killing children for sport and fun. Especially how the heroine copes with something so cruel. Apparently reading the book is wasted time.

Cecily Jeremy wrote: "...I find the whole premise of the hunger games to be such a genius idea and wish it was real..."

Seriously? Wow.

My own experience of the book is 1*, but as I'm not the target market, I was generous and gave it 2*. Some of my criticisms overlap with Caity's, but she has several I hadn't fully considered before.

message 17: by Tris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tris Tessa how can you compare it to twilight. i mean really fighting to the death and having to fake your love to live yeah thats just like twilight

sharon bleser i love the hunger games

message 19: by Roy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Roy Ah... Good review. However, remember this book was written for 12-year-old girls. I suppose they love it. Me, not so much. I had to read it though to see what the buzz was all about.

Chris Young I enjoyed the book but I do agree that was annoyingly blind to the obvious feelings her two guys had for her. She had the emotional obliviousness of a Vulcan.

message 21: by Cecily (last edited Aug 17, 2014 09:14AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Cecily Thanks, Roy, and I realise I'm not the target market. Ultimately though, my reviews are about my response.

Chris, the odd thing is, even though I rated the book far less highly than you did, that aspect didn't bother me too much. Some people really are that oblivious, especially if they've never had a serious relationship and aren't looking for one.

message 22: by Nga (new) - rated it 1 star

Nga Linh I think the book is just getting better at book three. I found it the most enjoyable of three

message 23: by Nick (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nick Allen I completely agree with you about the book being very predictable. I also think that the book is pretty cheesy,but I think that the book deserves more that one star.

Kuroonehalf Jesus, it's ridiculous I had to scroll so far down to find someone with common sense. My brain hurts trying to grasp how one could possibly have any sort of attachment toward this broken irrational world, repulsive characters, and catastrophic character and plot development, among a myriad of other serious problems.

Yet it somehow is rated an average of 4.4 from 3 million ratings. I just don't... It makes no sense. Thank you for voicing what I'm too exhausted to put into words.

Allison Thanks for really getting into an issue I had trouble conveying in my own review :) Namely that other possible plot devices were overshadowed by the love triangle. It's too bad because Katniss had the potential to be a deep and realistic character. The whole thing was so plot-driven.

message 26: by Alice (new) - rated it 1 star

Alice Crowleyn Thank you for this review! I always felt so alone because everyone around me love this book but now I feel much better. Knowing that there's someone out there who has the same opinion is really nice!

Kayla Loved this review because I agree with everything you say completely. But I'm also crying because it took me a month to read. It was just so awful ;o;

message 28: by Paraffin89 (new)

Paraffin89 I enjoyed your review. I agree on most part, it was, I think the actual reasons why the target population (teens/schoolkids) loves this book to bits. I'd say it's a difference in preference. Anyone who likes whirlwind romances and love triangles would dig the riveting feelings Katniss has for both love interests. You, and me and the rest of the commentators who agree didn't like the obliviousness that Katniss has so much. More importantly her emotional decisions are used as a compass in the story's direction. It's so annoying while we think of so many interesting endeavours to read in the book.
Having said that, I love the movie so much because of the actors and the way it was portrayed.
Since we're here for book review, it's not an excellent book that is worthy for all the fangirls/fanboys to hype at.

message 29: by Sam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sam I disagree. Hunger Games really doesn't have a "love triangle." I mean sure, maybe in the first book she has difficulty deciding who she wants to be with. But in Catching Fire, Katniss realizes that she had a bond with Peeta, over the games and the overall experience, that she could never have with Gale. So basically, in Mockingjay, Katniss loves Peeta and Peeta loves Katniss. And then we have Gale sitting in the corner, wondering what the heck hit him. He still loves Katniss, but she has no feelings for him. So this is not a love triangle. It's more like a love angle. This is one of the reasons I loved the books so much!! The main focus and moral isn't love!

message 30: by P. (new)

P. Zach I agree with you on the "wasted potential" and "predictability" counts. I haven't even finished the book, but I have regularly been knowing what will happen subconsciously a couple pages ahead of time. The one thing I really, really thought would be interesting would be if Rue had NOT been conveniently killed off by the Careers, leaving Katniss in a very awkward situation. Cue interesting moral crisis! But no, we had to do the "everything works out pretty well" routine, eliminating complex problems with convenient circumstances. Either way, I think this book is ok, but overrated.

message 31: by The (new)

The Wanderer I hear you about the movie. I enjoyed the books myself, for the most part, but I think that's largely because I saw the movies first.

Katniss is not terribly likeable, and learning everything through her felt forced. Plus the writing is just plain shoddy. The story itself, though, I appreciate.

Everything in Katniss's Hunger Games happens rather conveniently, yes, but I understand that to be part of the idea - it's not Katniss who makes everything happen, she's just caught up in the middle of it all and pushed this way or that as the real players dictate. Maybe exploring her moral culpability would have been one theme too many and detracted from the bigger picture?

message 32: by Skye (new) - rated it 5 stars

Skye I'm sorry, but unfortunately you're wrong about the Twilight thing. I can also see you don't like this book, and that's fine, but Twilight is not as good as THG. The love triangle is practically non-existant. There are also no werewolves/vampires. And the book goes much deeper than what people claim to be a "rip-off of Battle Royale."

This is written for 12-13-14-15 year olds. I don't think anyone outside that category can enjoy it as much.

Jaroslav Tuček Haven't seen the movies, but I think in many ways the script writer has a much easier time than the original book writer. The setting is already done for him and proven attractive enough, he can simply focus on the details. Throw away the ridiculous (say, Katniss twirling in her dress during the interview) or add some little touch the novel did not think of (say in LoTR, Gandalf's look of relief when Frodo sees no inscription on the Ring but then his "Wait"). It can add up to something surprising.

Jenny Even though I love this book, I really enjoy your review. It's an intelligent way to express why the book doesn't appeal to you. You made it about your tastes and opinions, not badmouthing the author or the people who do like the book. I wish more one-star reviews were like yours. Well done.

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