Clickety's Reviews > The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
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's review
Dec 07, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: library, recommended-to-me, fiction, scifi, ya

Okay, first of all, to fend off any rabid fans, let me say that I think I tend to be stingier with stars than most people are. I really enjoyed this book, but I didn't love it. I was surprised by how much I liked it, but I think that has more to do with my incredibly low expectations (despite - or perhaps partly because of - the incredible buzz around the book; I didn't like any of the Twilight books, after all).

And I'm hearing Newberry buzz and hoping to goodness it's wrong. The book's just not that meaningful. It's a great story - fast paced, description in sharp, vivid strokes, intriguing characters - but IMO, not a lot of depth as far as connection to real life.

Spoilers follow.....

So I actually own Battle Royale on DVD, and it's about a group of teenagers who get rounded up to participate in a nationally televised battle to the death. I love it. It's distressing, creepy, bleak, horrifying, and beautifully tragic. And it's a lot more tense - not only does it not follow the principal characters as closely as Hunger Games follows Katniss, I've learned through experience that Western storytellers tend to be a bit nicer to their protagonists, at least when it comes to, y'know, SURVIVAL. ;)

But Hunger Games lives up to (most of) the hype. You get a lot more introductory exposition - this is NOT a dystopian story, I don't care what anyone else tells you. In no way is this society presented as ideal. It is, however, post-apocalyptic; in the distant past, there was some sort of calamity (or series thereof) that eventually led to the current setup of Panem: the Capitol plus twelve "districts" that are subordinate to it (previously thirteen, but one was [supposedly] obliterated in a revolution generations ago).

So anyway, you get to know the main character and what life is like out in the Outer Rim ahem, districts, before she goes to fight in the Games. And then there's this whole setup - training and interviewing and whatnot - which was very well done, slowly building the tone for the battle.

A lot of people have groused about Katniss' seeming obliviousness, but I don't have a problem with it - before the story really starts, she hasn't thought about Peeta much, and then when they're both tributes, she has every reason NOT to trust anything he says or does.

But upon reflection, what I like the most about this book is the classical awareness. First of all, you've got the story as a whole: King Minos demanding tributes for the Labyrinth. Second, there are the names, and this is where it really starts to get interesting for me. Everyone from the Capitol has Roman-style names; those from the districts tend to have "common" names (Katniss, Prim, and Rue are named for plants - although 'rue' also means 'regret').

There are two exceptions. One is a reflection back to a previous Game - Titus, from District 6. (Look for a synopsis of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus.) The other is Cato. I doubt that either is a mistake.

The other name that attracted my attention was Cinna. Now, all I know of this is from Julius Caesar (so I guess it's a good thing I started teaching it this year, or I likely wouldn't've remembered it from back in high school), but in the play, there are actually TWO characters named Cinna. Hm. Hmmmm indeed...

Finally, literary convention demands that the first eligible member of the appropriate sex with enough 'face time' is the intended Special Someone. After being pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this first book, I will be annoyed to no end if this series follows the predictable in that regard.

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Clickety PS: Dangit, WHEN will this be out in paperback?! Grrr. I want lit-circle copies and it's sooo expensive!

Philip Scholastic has it out in paperback already for 7 bucks. : ) Guess who bought several : )

Clickety *g* Yeah, but donorschoose doesn't go through Scholastic. ;)

Yes, I really am THAT cheap.

Philip I checked out donorschoose because some of my students started a bookclub (that also meets on goodreads) and it grew to 27. We now have class time when we can meet too. (Sweet.) But they pick the books, and the first "girl book" they chose was Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen which just came back and is like... $18... I don't think I could start a donorschoose request and get 15 books funded by the end of next week... we'll see what happens...

Clickety Well, they'd have to ship them, too. So I don't think you'll get them by the end of next week even if they were funded right away.

Maybe start reading that one and plan out your next one NOW so that by the time you finish this one you can have the next set?

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