Vanessa's Reviews > The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
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's review
Dec 15, 11

bookshelves: reviewed, fiction
Read from September 09 to 17, 2011

** spoiler alert ** So, The Hunger Games! A new teen sensation, the book trilogy everyone and their mother seems to be reading... I picked it up at the supermarket as part of a book deal and started reading last week, but it's not like I've been hooked on it. Oh, it's an interesting concept, I love the world and the characters, and I took out Catching Fire and Mockingjay from the library yesterday, because I'm wondering where Suzanne Collins will take the rest of the series. It's been entertaining me, but it hasn't exactly dug its claws into my consciousness like other highly-recommended YA books I've read.

First of all, I think I need to address the constant comparisons to Koshun Takami's Battle Royale, a Japanese bestseller in 1999 that was eventually made into a movie by Kinji Fukasaku, starring Takeshi ('Beat') Kitano. And now a novel written almost ten years later that takes Battle Royale's concept and runs wildly with it is being made into a movie due for release in March 2012. Now, of course, the novel is pretty much just Battle Royale but in the charred and totalitarian remains of what used to be the USA, with a lot more technology involved. However, there are some saving graces... I think Suzanne Collins was right not to give us the name of everybody in the games. Some of them are nameless and faceless, or given a name and face but nothing much else (i.e., Foxface). In Battle Royale, there are something like 40 students in the class, plus two transfer students, and the amount of names the reader has to memorise was mind-boggling, when really, you needed to know the names of maybe 10 at most. The rest were as disposable as the first few (sorry, the first eleven) people killed in the Hunger Games. So I'm glad that she took this approach.

I liked the futuristic and dystopian setting. The idea of dismantling this brutal totalitarian state wasn't really there by the end of the book, but er, that's not going to happen when the main focus of the first novel is to make sure the characters get through the Hunger Games.

One of the things I didn't like about the story was the sudden inclusion of the 'muttations' near the end. So any people claimed by the Hunger Games are revived into wolves or at least, werewolf-like beings, like the Erasers from the Maximum Ride series? That seemed like a bit of a grab for the 'OMG I love wolves' crowd. I love wolves too but their inclusion felt a bit out of place here. ^^;

Even though I was spoiled about Rue dying, I tried to shove it to the back of my mind... And well, I didn't really feel sad for her at all. She was cute, but I wasn't really moved when she died for some reason. The term 'You're doing it wrong' comes to mind, because this is supposed to be the most heartbreaking thing ever according to reviews I've read.

Also, while I love Katniss as our heroine, I'm less than crazy about Peeta. He's funny at times, quite sweet, and actually cares enough for Katniss to betray her for the 'Career' crowd during the second act, but their romance was just too awkward for me. I know it was all a ruse that Haymitch thought up to bolster support for them, but when Peeta confessed to having loved Katniss ever since he saw her singing in a school assembly when she was 5... eh, I didn't quite buy that. Katniss x Gale all the way, baby!

The double-suicide/double-team thing at the end was a little bit jarring too. Basically, in the second act, after quite a few people have bit the dust, the Game-Makers change one of the Hunger Games rules so that two people can win the games, so long as they're both from the same district. Since Haymitch has formulated a cunning plan to drum up support for the 'lovers' Katniss and Peeta, this seems like the natural thing to do, so they enter into a romance for the cameras that becomes more and more real. Then, when the final tribute (Cato) is killed, the Game-Makers go 'Nope, sorry, we changed the rule again a little while ago. Now only one tribute can win.' Well, rather than be faced with killing each other, Katniss and Peeta take out a handful of poisonous berries and are about to eat them when the Game-Makers reverse their decision again, and Katniss and Peeta get to go home after a few interviews on the state's corrupt national television... and there it ends.

I'd also say the writing is very much less is more. The novel is written from Katniss' viewpoint, resulting in short, snappy sentences, and a frantic, more hurried tone when faced with life or death situations. It worked somewhat well, but it could have been improved by cramming in just a little bit more detail.

All in all, I'm giving this one a 3.5/5. It's a good read, a rather faithful homage to not just Battle Royale but also Stephen King's The Running Man, as well as borrowing a wee bit from 28 Days Later, and it will keep you coming back for more, but there is still much to be desired with the characters, the writing, and some of the decisions the characters make. Well done, but could have been done just a little bit better. :)
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09/09/2011 page 9
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Kat (Le Pauvre Cœur) I agree with a lot of things you said. I hated the 'romance' (you can't really even call it that) between Peeta and Katniss, and the muttations were just bizarre to add in the end. All in all, I strongly disliked hated this book.

message 2: by Freya (new) - added it

Freya I'm not reading this review as I think I do want to read it, the only thing I'm worried about is that it might be like a slightly more friendly version of Battle Royale?

Mizuki and people are still arguing with me that The Hunger Games has nothing to do with Battle Royale. Hahah.

message 4: by Freya (new) - added it

Freya ahaha yeah I had watched Battle Royale not long before all the Hunger Games hype started so it was kind of fresh in my mind when people told me the blurb!

Mizuki Freya wrote: "ahaha yeah I had watched Battle Royale not long before all the Hunger Games hype started so it was kind of fresh in my mind when people told me the blurb!"

HG probably isn't a total ripoff out of BR, but I don't believe Ms. Collins' claim about herself never hearing of it.

message 6: by Freya (new) - added it

Freya Yeah I think I will agree with you there :)

Mizuki Freya wrote: "Yeah I think I will agree with you there :)"

I'm glad that you agree, mind to friend me?

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