Adrian's Reviews > The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
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's review
Mar 05, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: action, fantasy, science-fiction, young-adult, dystopia
Read in March, 2012

** spoiler alert ** The Hunger Games is well on its way to greatness for the majority of the ride, but slightly tips off of the rails towards the ending. The story is wonderful, the characters (mostly) are brilliant and engaging, and the premise is justly exciting and worrisome, but something about the book kept tugging at my attention and I wasn't sure what that was until about the ending: the narrative structure. Collins achieves something that most other books in the genre can't: she keeps the feeling of suspense going throughout the entire story. Her first person present tense narrative never tips its hand to the reader. If the story were told in first person past tense, then the reader knows the protagonist has made it through the games alive (how else could she narrate her own tale unless she survived the ordeal?) If it were told in third person, perhaps the reader would be a little too distanced from the action to feel the effects (after all this is the first book that had me shedding tears after only 30 pages due to how invested I was in the narrator's emotions.) But the drawback of this narrative structure is that it often relies too heavily on telling the story in summery when showing us the scene at hand would be more effective. I found myself wanting small bits of information on the other tributes (do we ever even learn what Cato looks like?) that Katniss simply could not have given us.
This brings me to the ending. I think it's the scenes of their final interview and the train ride home that suffers the most from this narrative structure. We hear the pronouncement of the trouble they are in after the stunt that wins them the games, but I never felt that tension, I never felt the turmoil in Katniss as she tries to figure out what she's meant to do about her romantic life. The ending reads way too much like summery—like the author attempting to wrap the story up quickly because she feels that the nearly 400 pages she's got so far is running on too long—to be effective. In my head, I was yelling at Collins to slow down! to show me instead of tell me, the interview and everything that went along with it. But alas, that's not the way this particular narrator and narrative structure functions.
The Hunger Games is a good book. Indeed, it's one of the better YA Sci-Fi books I've read since I put down the Harry Potter series. But the fact that it I see how it could have been beyond great fills me with a little regret. You won't be sorry to have read it, I’m sure, but I also can't say for certain that I'll ever read it again.

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Reading Progress

03/04/2012 page 108
29.0% 2 comments
03/04/2012 page 262
70.0% "I've never read a book that had me so emtionally invested in the characters that I was tearing up by page 30!"

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