Book Review: The Hunger Games (contains spoilers)
This book comes with a lot of hype and many readers have raved about this book. Yes, it’s been made into a movie. No, I haven’t seen the movie. I will get around to it soon. Stop pressuring me! Yes my favorite daughter has seen it and loved the movie. This is a Young Adult book and movie so I expected it to be rather light in tone. I mean, she did love the Twilight movies as well. But then my sister-in-law had read the books and enjoyed them. We have similar tastes so I decided I couldn’t avoid this book for much longer. I went ahead and bought the $12.99 trilogy on the kindle and read the first book during my Palm Desert vacation sitting next to the pool
As a reader: I love a book with a strong protagonist. Someone who needs to overcome overwhelming odds in order to succeed. I also love YA books because they have a more simplified plot and not as many twists and turns so the story progresses faster. The Hunger Games is very much a YA novel in that respect, but much like other beloved YA books there is a large cast of characters. Most of them we never get to know very well and that’s because the hunger games is a place where a lot of people die.
Our main character, Katniss, starts out in her poor sector of town and takes her sister’s place in the games. Unfortunately she knows the other boy selected, but not well enough that she really cares about him. They have a couple encounters before the selection process so we know there is something between them.
The outer rings are the poorest (Katniss is from the poorest) and as you get closer to the capital the rings are richer and have better ‘tributes’ to send to the games. It was interesting to follow her through the process of going from a girl hunting illegally in the woods to provide for her family to a girl in the games. Each ring sends two into the games so there are a total of 24 kids. At first I had trouble with kids fighting to the death, but hey, it’s a YA book. That’s what they’re for, right? To be main characters. It wouldn’t have been as effective if it had been adults. One things that I did notice when they were sent into the arena was no one just gave up. I would have expected at least one or two to just succumb to fear and give up before they ever ran into the field.
Katniss doesn’t kill anyone until deep into the book, but rather waits for others to kill each other off before she strikes. Her first kill is one of vengeance so it’s not like she was a cold blooded killer and her final kill is one more of mercy for the wounded person. The twists, at least for me, were expected where her partner was ‘in love with her’ even though she thought of it as just a ploy to gain more sponsors and allowing them both to live cheapened the ending for me. Perhaps it would have been too tragic of an ending, but I didn’t care for it. I’m sure the ramifications will carry over into the second book so I can’t fully write this one off as a cheap ploy. I also didn’t care for all the ‘dead’ kids coming back as zombie werewolfs either. I’m not sure what the point of it was. It could have been any mutant wolves and this really didn’t add anything to the story for me.
Having read a lot I saw the ending coming from far off, but that didn’t stop me from reading. It’s well written and, even though sad at parts, a great read.
As a Writer: Like I just said, I saw the ending coming from the time the two of them were selected. The foreshadowing was very up front and it was quite easy to see where this was going to go. Her rebellion, her survival, her saving of her partner, even the Romeo and Juliette style near death was all easy to see coming from a long way off. Despite all of that it’s a great book that’s written quite well. We only ever follow Katniss along so it’s very focused in its narrative style. Because the narrative is very tight, there are only minor flaws and plot devices used to push the story forward. If you have been writing for any length of time there are no real twist and turns that will have to trying to figure out what is going on. It’s a very straight forward story.
What I really liked about the story is there is no real sense of good versus evil. Just the need to survive. Or more the need not to get killed. I like this concept in that everything around it just so unfair that the only way to overcome is to do what’s expected even if it means you’re only serving the machine. Of course you expect the main character to throw in her own little rebellion and this serves to push the story toward a second book.
Recommendation: If you like YA, read this book. It’s good writing. It’s also a fairly short book and a quick read.