Tuesday, May 7, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Hunger Games (2008)

Author:  Suzanne Collins
Country:  U.S.
Genre:  YA, dystopian
Let's get the writing style comment out of the way: It's somewhere in the middle of "average, but okay enough" writing and "verging on appalling, poorly-written crap". Somewhere in between, probably a tad leaning towards the former.

What made this book a fun and worthwhile read is the story-telling and the pacing. I gotta give Collins credit here, she gave us this world of dystopian future (and while it's not really developed -- just a bunch of vague references about its history and such.) and the horror of poverty, hunger, violence, and political control that's quite interesting. I wouldn't dwell on the plot itself, because as I've said, this story was told in an exciting way so I'm willing to let go of the seeming plotholes and lack of plot/character development. I wouldn't even question the ubiquitous and invisible cameras (which couldn't focus much on trees because of the leaves, and yet it can capture every single scene that's happening inside an almost-covered mini-cave.) And I also thought there is a story behind that Cinna character, why he is so unlike the Capitol people, with his simple garments and neatly-cropped hair (which is obviously not the trend in that place.) - (highlight to reveal) but no, there was no big reveal.

I've finished this book very quickly, because of three things: pacing, plot, and Katniss Everdeen.

It's told through Katniss' point of view and while that could be a tremendous limitation and failing of any book, in this case, Collins managed to create a character interesting enough for readers to relate to. Yes she has a disillusioned attitude, but she is totally devoted to her family and she's loyal. She's smart, but painfully naive at times esp. when it involves her co-tribute Peeta Mellark. Those are the times which I can't help but roll my eyes, but then I remember that Katniss is a 16 year old girl who has been feeding her family even before she had the capacity to do it - so I forgive her for that. Let her be naive and confused about boys! Anyway, yes I have enjoyed seeing thru Katniss' eyes. (that's an example of a strong, independent, smart female protagonist. I would love Bella and Anastasia to be thrown into the arena as well. That's the part I would surely enjoy reading graphic violence.) The only downside is, the action is limited, and you already have the feeling that she will win the game because she's the narrator -_- Unless Collins shifts to another POV when Katniss dies, which is not a good idea for me.

The pacing kept you turning the pages, or in my case, swiping the screen to the left.

The idea of a dictatorial Capitol gathering teenagers from its oppressed districts to battle to their deaths in an arena is too much for me. Yes it could be possible, because humanity is really in a moral decline now and who knows how we would act in a dystopian future? But then again, these are kids. But okay, I mean, The Lord of the Flies, and Battle Royale, right? While there are no detailed graphic violence written, (except when a tribute had another one pinned down and was figuring out how to cut her up in such a gruesome way to provide unforgettable action for the audiences), but the fact that these are kids fighting for their lives, and some are even enjoying killing, for the sole benefit of the Capitol's entertainment and form of control, is disturbing. What is the purpose of this battle-to-the-death teenage version? Surely there are other ways to remind your districts not to rebel again right? In fact, I thought that by endangering the lives of teenagers yearly would ignite an even more fiery anger in the hearts of the people, but then again, this is not my novel. So fine. I'll bite.

** Twilight has "perfect/beautiful", Fifty Shades has "carnal desire" as their authors' favorite repeat words. This book has "arbitrary" -- it's only been used 3-4 times but i found it amusing to see it being used because it just stood out like a sore thumb among all the rest of the simple words in the page.


While this is not a literary classic, it still has its own special flavor which makes it worth reading. It's enjoyable enough if you are willing to ignore the underdeveloped characters and kind of juvenile writing style. I'll put it maybe three to four shelves under Harry Potter, and six or seven shelves above Twilight.

3.5/5 - I enjoyed it, but it'll probably just be a one-time read.

Check out MY ULTIMATE BOOK BUCKET LIST or the books I wanna read before I die!

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