Allie's Reviews > The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
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's review
Dec 26, 13

bookshelves: young-adult, sci-fi, political, coming-of-age, romance, dystopia
Recommended to Allie by: adolescent literature class
Read in January, 2012

The premise and world-building is interesting though derivative, and not at all plausible. The narrative is awkward and full of deus ex machina. The characters are substantial enough for an action-driven story. And the writing is bad.

Prime examples (of many):

"I know I haven’t been in this part of the woods before, there were no sizable rocks like the one I’m sheltering against on my earlier travels."

"even more strongly than at home, I feel my impotence."

"When I open my eyes, the world looks slightly fractured, and it takes a minute to realize that the sun must be well up and the glasses fragmenting my vision."

"This unrecognizable. Her features eradicated, her limbs three times their normal size."

The necessary violence made you stop and think. I liked the issues (wealth & ethics; TV & desensitization; survival vs. compassion, etc.) and my favorite thing was the extreme dual philosophies as embodied by straightforward idealist effeminate Peeta and calculating practical manly Katniss. But this reversal, too, was ultimately disturbing as it depended on these very notions of gender roles.

And is it bad that I just wouldn't even want my kids reading books with sentences like "Today I'll have to be scrupulously careful" and "We look well [i.e. 'good'] together"?!

The whole time I tried to imagine how I would've responded to this book if I were 13. And I just don't know. Would I have been engaged by its tensions and themes, by its narrator who has a heart but buries it so deep that she even righteously guilt-trips clinically-depressed loved ones? Would I really believe in her contrived internal melodrama and become immersed in her telling of the story?

When I reread other YA coming-of-age books, I don't feel that they're simplistic in any way. But when I read THE HUNGER GAMES now, and the narrator is explaining things excessively and smacking me over the head with the fact that these aren't normal circumstances since they have to fight to the death, etc. etc., my mind just goes totally numb. And I feel that we should give teen readers more credit than that.

Which is why I feel that an Ursula LeGuin dystopia would be healthier than this.

That said, I can't wait for the HUNGER GAMES movie.

I think it will make a good movie.
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