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The Hunger Games Classic - Suzanne Collins
Member Name: cha97mw
The Hunger Games Classic - Suzanne Collins
Date: 11/05/12, updated on 11/05/12 (59 review reads)
Advantages: well constructed plot, very 3 dimensional characters, fast paced, lots of suspense.
Disadvantages: ended a bit anti-climatically for me.
I'm not normally the sort of person who gets dragged along into the latest craze for the sake of it, preferring to make up my own mind whether I think something is good or not. It takes me a little while to even become aware that something is a trend, so unsurprisingly, the 2008 novel 'The Hunger Games' had largely passed me by until I started seeing regular television adverts for the recent film adaptation, and reviews started appearing. I decided I really should check this one out for myself when my sister told me how much she had enjoyed it, and then she bought me the trilogy for my birthday last month, so I was excited to finally get my chance.
The Hunger Games is written by Suzanne Collins, a relatively unknown person to myself, though she has written for the TV show 'Clarissa Explains it All' which I loved as a teenager, and this series is actually her second, the first being a 5 part post war series called The Underland Chronicles. This woman is a very experienced author, and her novel is well executed.
The plot is something that dragged me in from the very first page. What I noticed was that this novel, though 454 pages long, is actually printed with a quite large spacing between the lines of text, so it was actually possible for me to read this novel in about 5 hours. I am a quick reader, but this was quick even for me. Part of this was just how engrossed I was in the text, but also partly due to this spacing.
Before I even started reading I was excited to see all the praise being heaped upon the plot by some well respected authors. Stephen King himself, one of the best writers of suspenceful science fiction, describes this as 'constant suspense..... I just couldn't stop reading.' Anthony Horowitz is a respected children's author of the Alex Ryder series, says 'One of the best written and most thought provoking books I have read for a long time.' This impressed me more than the long list of best seller lists it had appeared on, although I have to admit, if that many people are buying the book, there has to be something redeeming about it.
I think you have to have been living in a cave for the past few months to have no awareness of this one, but I will explain the plot anyway:
The central character in this novel is a 16 year old girl called Katniss Everdeen. She lives in a futuristic version of America called Panem. The country has been split up into 12 districts that are each responsible for some task to provide materials for the Capitol city that controls the country. Katniss lives in District 12, which is a coal mining area. She leads a very poor existence after her father was killed when she was 11. Her mother suffered from a break down, and Katniss was faced with a choice - live or die. She chose life, and has been providing for her mother and younger sister Prim since that day, by poaching in the woods outside the district boundary.
Their life is not an easy one, and the worst part of their existence is the annual Hunger Games. Every year, each district provides two candidates to take part in a Survivor style reality TV show for the enjoyment of the people who live in Capitol City. This is a fight to the death, where only one person who walks into the Arena out of 24 candidates can walk back out alive.
When the candidates are picked, Katniss is horrified when her younger sister Prim's name is drawn out, and in a gallant gesture of defiance, she nominates herself instead in her sisters place as she cannot bear to watch her die.
Katniss is pictured from the start very much as an underdog. She is a slight girl, who has some skills at hunting, but she has been malnourished for years compared to the candidates from some of the richer districts. Herself and the male candidate from district 12, Peeta the baker's son, are also at a disadvantage as they are being directed in strategy by a previous winner from their district, Haymitch, who is an alcoholic and a bit of a joke.
This novel set off at a good pace, and although there was a lot of description in there about what the country is like, and the lifestyle that is being led in district 12, I felt there was the right balance between action to move the plot forward, and padding to flesh out the scenery and the characters. I felt that I knew a lot about Katniss's family and background even though a lot of this is just her thinking about them or describing them to Peeta. Katniss as the narrator is perfect, and very articulate.
The pace did not burn out for me the whole way through the novel. My first session of reading it, I read for 3 hours non-stop as I just could not put it down through wanting to know what was next. The next day I had to go and do my volunteer stint at our local primary school, and read it while the kids were out playing, and again felt very frustrated at having to stop part way through a chapter when I wanted more. It is very addicting once you start.
I did feel that the novel stagnated for me in the last chapter. It just seemed to dwindle out a bit at the end, but it did leave me with a desire to get on with book two in the trilogy as soon as I can. I guess, it is like a cliffhanger at the end of the a TV series, though for me, it just kind of ran out of pace rather than leaving the plot at a high tension point.
My overall thought after reading the novel is I bet the events in the book look brilliant on the big screen, and I can't wait now to see the film as well. I am also going to move straight onto novel 2, Catching Fire, while I have this level of passion and enthusiasm for the characters.
I am highly involved emotionally in this story, and the author did a very fine job at writing this novel. It is the sort of book that has me holding my breath in places, and I did not feel it was that predictable. I can't wait to find out what happens to Katniss next.
(Anyone wanting to buy this, Tesco were doing 2 books for £7, the Book People had the whole trilogy for just £4.99, or individually, the RRP is £6.99.)
Summary: The Hunger Games has definitely whetted my appetite.
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