The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins – book review
I don’t usually go for “young adult” fiction, although I did read and love Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. I am a sucker for a dystopian future though, so I had to give this one a go. I got on the library waiting list and I’d almost forgotten about it, it took so long for my turn to come round.
It took just a few days to read. The prose flows perfectly and it’s such a speedy, easy read. It’s also action-packed and exciting and Collins has a cleverly infuriating way of ending each chapter on a cliff-hanger, so you’re always in that “just one more” situation.
I admit it instantly reminded me of the 1999 film Battle Royale – Japanese teens are sent to fight it to the death in some rural arena. This is just the same, except they’re American. I didn’t read the novel Battle Royale was based on so I should probably stop the comparisons here. Collins puts in just the right amount of back story to give you a clear idea of the situation but without boring you.
I imagine Collins sitting at home seeing how reality TV has got more and more shocking over the years, and how the members of the public on it are playing a game in the hope of a TV presenters job at the end of it, or at the very least, a few topless photos in a magazine. I imagine her wondering where it could possibly end – these awful, shallow shows made for an unimaginative audience. And I imagine the Hunger Games was what she came up with – teens fighting each other to the death. Sadly, it probably only took a little more thought to imagine a society that might find this agreeable and even entertaining.
I struggle to find anything to complain about in this story, but if I had to choose, it would be Katniss, our hero. She’s awesome, brave, extremely bright, skilled, strong and beautiful too. Oh yeah, and she’s 16. I never really take to characters who are perfect. She has this little flaw of not being so great with people, but is that such a flaw, really? The fact that she’s 16 and has such clarity of thought and good sense is very very hard to believe. But I love and admire her still, I can;t help myself, just like Peeta.
I very much admired the less-is-more approach Collins takes to explains the complicated feelings Katniss has for Peeta. She manages to get across this complexity and confusion so well without overdoing it.
The action is thrilling and I am on the edge of my seat almost the whole way through. I can’t wait for book two.