Review: the Hunger Games

I picked up the Hunger Games after nearly everyone I knew with an interestest in YA fiction spent the better part of the last year telling me I had to read it.  I can see why it earned the adoration.

At first glance the book isn’t anything that original, treading ground seen previously in such books as Battle Royale and Tunnel In the Sky.  A group of children are carted off to a wilderness arena and are forced to fight to the death.  Why that’s become its own genre is probably something that would make for a halfway decent master’s thesis.

So, what makes the Hunger Games different?  Primarily its that Suzanne Collins isn’t actually  interested in telling an survival story.  Instead this is a dystopian story, and a damned good one.  The games in this world are used as a means of both entertaining the ruling class and ensuring their dominance over those beneath their station.

The dystopian elements were by far the most engrossing aspects of the story, but very often they also led Collins to make some slight missteps in the story.  The action elements occasionally feel somewhat unfullfilling, with quite a few major pieces of the plot occuring offstage and a few Chekhov’s Guns left unused. 

But still the book left me craving the sequel, which seems like it ought to focus more on the politics of the world Collins has created, and that interests me a great deal more than the Hunger Games detailed here.

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3 Comments on “Review: the Hunger Games”

  1. wolfshowl Says:

    My personal thesis on why it’s become a genre: Nobody likes teenagers. Even teenagers don’t like teenagers. 😉

  2. rachel Says:

    I loved the second book (Catching Fire) even more than Hunger Games. You should definitely check it out.

    I think Collins does a good job of writing a dystopian novel that appeals to teens. Collins writes an appealing story with strong teen characters, mixing politics with teen love and traditional “coming of age” struggles. I originally read it and thought “this is Margaret Atwood for teens!” Of course, there are many teens who would read & enjoy Atwood, but this story appeals to a larger group – and I think appeals to both girls & boys.

    Also, kept thinking it would have been a cool graphic novel – and would definitely make a great video game.

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