The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – another review in the Eclectic Readers Challenge 2012
I was loaned these books from a friend – The wife saw the movie recently and wanted to check out the series that inspired it and I needed a book for the Eclectic Readers Challenge – Young Adult.
This genre is one that I like – Susan Cooper, Cory Doctorow, Scott Westerfeld among others are hiding out on my book shelves. I like the easy readability of these books as well as the adventure and feel that most young adult books have. If you haven’t read one of these since teenage-hood I highly recommend you jump back in – and abandon yourself to the story.
Back to the review… many may be aware of the series from either the books or the major movie – so I will keep this first part fairly short.
This is set in the future after some catastrophe has turned North America into mostly a wasteland with humanity held up in 12 districts which support the Capitol, in a quasi-salve state. Many years earlier a 13th district existed but after a failed attempt to seek independence from the Capitol it was bombed and in retaliation the Hunger Games started as a way to remind the remaining districts that the Capitol rules. The Hunger Games require each district to send 2 tributes (aged between 12-18) to fight it out – with only 1 winner allowed – the rest must die. The series follows Katniss, Peeta and Gale (the teenage triangle often found in the young adult genre – just get with the program!) as their world is turned apart and seemingly innocent actions cause the whole world to start to change.
This immediately made me think of the Japanese film Battle Royale (and I am not the only one… however, I am not going to enter that debate.) I am happy to believe that the author really didn’t see the movie before writing this – and after all it is a very different story with only slight similarities. Here endth the debate.
I have also chosen to review the whole series of three books – not to make out that I am some genius at reading but that fact remains with large font and spacing these books might be 400 pages each but probably contain less words then one George RR Martin !!! Man that guy can write!
So what did I think of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay? I think firstly it is well written – the target audience will be able to read this easily – it deals with some difficult issues, death, family, separation and acceptance of your role in the world. The main characters, while being flawed, show strength that comes from something real – by this I mean they are not glowing vampires or love struck werewolves but normal (ish) teenagers who are made to extraordinary things in dangerous times. Worlds are turned upside down, loyalties are questioned and in the end a choice must be made.
I understand why this series is well liked and would encourage any read or any age to read this as it is a great story with good characters, action, love and all the other good bits… without being too graphic or “grown-up” (with that I mean no sex and remorse over the violence).
Suzanne has done a sterling job with this series, so often young adult books can feel ‘dumbed’ down, Suzanne has managed to keep the heavy subject matter true to younger readers while still being enjoyed by the umm older/mature/experienced readers like myself.
I will give this series 4/5