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
"May the odds be ever in your favour"
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Member Name: helenc72
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Advantages: Gripping, good characters, interesting concept, well written, keeps your attention
Disadvantages: Concept is not original
I am a very late joiner to the Hunger Games bandwagon because despite all the hype around it I resisted reading it until yesterday. The main things putting me off were that, based on the brief outline of the plot which I had heard, I thought it sounded like a massive Battle Royale rip off (something which a lot of people have obviously noticed) and the fact that I am not always keen on all these popular trilogies and series for "young adults". I was a bit put off by the strange character names too!
However, I got a cheap copy of The Hunger Games yesterday at a book fair and thought I might as well give it a go to see what all the fuss was about. I loved it and am now kicking myself that I didn't also pick up the second book, Catching Fire.
After reading The Hunger Games I do think the similarities to the 1999 Japanese novel Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (which was also made into a manga series and a film, all of which I have read/seen) are pretty huge, but as I was reading I just got into the Hunger Games world and forgot about Battle Royale.
I'm sure most people have a rough idea of the plot, although for the benefit of those who don't, I will give a quick run down. There are still people who have never heard of The Hunger Games, such as my dad yesterday when he was asking what I was reading.
It is a few years into the future, and North America as we know it today has gone, and been replaced by the country of Panem, led from the Capitol and comprising 13 districts where the people live. After district 13 tried to rise up against the Capitol, the state instigated a new yearly ritual - The Hunger Games. A boy and girl from each of the 12 remaining populated districts are chosen to take part. This is an extremely gruesome televised gameshow where the participants (called tributes) are put into an "arena", which is somewhere out in the wild and has different environment each year, and have to kill each other until only one victor remains. This will sound very familiar to Battle Royale fans but there are some differences, such as in Battle Royale the children taking part are all from the same class at school, whereas in Hunger Games the children come from all over the country and don't know each other apart from possibly the other participant from their district.
Throughout the novel we follow the progress of the main character, Katniss Everdeen, who ends up competing in the games after she volunteers in her 12 year old sister's place. We also meet Peeta Mellark, the boy tribute from Katniss' district, and the other players in the game.
One thing that I did really like about the Hunger Games, and which is quite different to Battle Royale, is that we are shown quite a lot of events before the games actually begin. The story starts before the tributes are chosen, and we see Katniss in her normal family life, where she is a resourceful hunter bringing meat to her poor family to keep them alive in the poverty of the district 12 Seam (like a ghetto). We witness the Reaping, which is how the tributes are chosen, and I found the explanation of this and how the number of entries work was quite fascinating. The way the whole event is presented as a game is actually quite sickening, and throughout the book we can't forget it is done as "entertainment" as throughout the Reaping there is an annoying and vapid seeming TV presenter, then the tributes must all dress up, go through interviews and so on, and even during the games in some of the most difficult moments Katniss has to remind herself to put on certain faces for the camera. They have to worry about how they are seen so they attract "sponsors", rich supporters who bet on their survival and occasionally send them things to help them during the games.
In The Hunger Games the character of Katniss, and to a lesser extent Peeta, are developed in quite a lot of detail. Katniss is shown as likeable, human and vulnerable but still clever and with a survival instinct. With Peeta there is a lot of uncertainty about what tactics he is using, what he is really thinking, who he is aligning himself with and whether he can really be trusted. I was rooting for him to be a good guy, and you are definitely given the impression he is good at heart based on his past childhood encounter with Katniss and the things he says before going into the arena, but during the games you do wonder if it was all a front and think the desperation of the games can change people, so I liked that it was not always black and white as Peeta does some questionable things.
Overall I really enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. I raced through it within a day and once I started reading it I didn't want to stop. I was not bothered about the Battle Royale similarities, as I found the concept of this game interesting then and I still do now and actually I think it was fascinating to see how pretty much the same concept was tackled by another writer. The Hunger Games is well written and kept me gripped throughout.
I would say don't be snobbish about it like I was at first - it actually is a really good book that is worth reading!
Summary: Much better than I thought it would be