Newest Review: ... kindle version than actual paper. ===Another world=== The Hunger Games is set in a distant future. The earth has been ravaged by war and... more
Only one can survive...
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Member Name: pmcds
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Advantages: Fast paced and easy to read, enough depth
Disadvantages: Nothing really
Suzanne Collins certainly does seem to be one of the authors of the moment, her Hunger Games trilogy seemingly the latest teen craze, the Twilight saga having come to a literary close even we have one film left to experience. Winning teen movie awards and making bigger stars out of its cast, the film of the first book has helped the books launch back into the top lists of the book lists. My wife has pretty much finished the trilogy in the best part of a fortnight, and her fervour for them was enough to make me give it a go.
The premise of the book is not a completely original one. The novel 'Battle Royale' was published about 15 years ago, and is very similar in its core context of a bunch of kids thrust into an 'arena' of sorts, with only one of them able to survive. The Hunger Games is set in the future, where a group of natural disasters have led to lands being ravaged and split and changed from what we know, the States being split into 13 districts, one of which was laid to waste in response to an uprising against the Capitol, the new supreme powers that treat all other districts with totalitarian rule and a strict firm hand.
Each year on the same day, two teenagers from each district are chosen from a hat to enter the games. The 24 teens are then entered into a vast, climate controlled arena whose landscape could range from forest to desert. Only one of them may survive, which sets them off against each other. The 74th year the event has taken place, there are now those who strive for the glory of competing in the games, while others, such as our heroine Katniss Everdene, dread their choosing. When Katniss volunteers to save her younger sister from the games, she is launched in and must combat all manner of emotions and loyalties in order to survive.
Collins doesn't mess about with plot development, and her word selection is very good. She is able to explain the surroundings, characters, emotions and events in a way that is so easy to read. It does mean that there isn't as much depth and broad description as there may be, but what this results in is a book that flows very well and is virtually impossible to put down. Her characters are relatable even if the setting and events aren't, and the emotions experienced by the main character, Katniss, are real enough that you almost know what's going to happen and be felt before it occurs in the book.
The flow and smoothness of the 400+ pages and the regular spacing of chapters certainly helps. The content verges on mature themes from time to time, especially as there are scenes featuring death, particularly where some of the nastier characters are concerned. The characterisation itself couldn't really be better. I felt I had a solid visual perception of nearly everyone, with the only exception being those characters who are mentioned only briefly, and even then the circumstances in the book were enough to often have some solid vision.
The ending of the book leaves things open very well for the sequel, which I'm now halfway through. It's certainly not literary genius, and takes cues from tales such as Battle Royale and Stephen King's The Running Man, but these are concepts it's easy to think about even if you haven't seen it before. Apparently Collins knew nothing of Battle Royale before she submitted the manuscript, stating that the idea came from dozing in front of the TV whilst flicking between reality TV and the Iraq war. I can see how this has manifested into the novel, and it's all original enough that it's unique. You can't really plagiarise a vague concept anyway, not in this sense. I've thoroughly enjoyed how hard it is to put this book down, and the second is going along in pretty much the same way. I look forward to the film, but if you want something enjoyable and easy to read, there's nothing new that's better than this right now. Recommended.
Summary: A girl takes the place of her sister in a deadly game of survival