The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

November 14, 2010 at 20:33 (Book Reviews, Children's Books, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Highly Rated Books) (, , )


Here is a prime example of a book that contains an excellent story, but very little else. Collins has obviously struck gold with this genius update of Lord of the Flies, and is certainly deserving of her reputation. Katniss is a terrific lead character, managing to be cool enough to dazzle young readers, and conflicted enough to be more than just another teenage hero.

Thankfully, Collins is not impatient enough to somehow dismantle her vicious pedocidal dystopia by the end of the first book; it is a pleasant surprise for the pacing of the series that her Evil Empire really sustains very little hurt at all. The choice to write in the present tense was a bold choice, and comes off rather well, although often she gets herself stuck over a sentence which contains just a few too many clauses for her own good. Apparently that’s down to bad copy-editing, but it is unsettling for something like that to remain noticeable as an aspect of any writer’s style.

While Collins is certainly good at writing suspensefully, and her action is never stale, the book does retrospectively seem like little more than a trail of interesting massacres. Predator for kids, as it were. There is a love triangle, if that floats your boat at all, but not a very convincing one. And that’s about it. William Golding managed to say some very important things about human nature and the myopia of human beings in difficult scenarios. Suzanne Collins manages to remind readers once in a while that her protagonist is really quite cross about the whole Capitol Government. For a book that has the gall to boast on its dust jacket how it is a “philosophical” work “with unsettling parallels to the present day”, Collins has some explaining to do.

Ultimately, this book begins and ends as light teenage fiction. It is enjoyable, but not too challenging and not too serious. About the most philosophical thing that takes place is the protagonist pondering briefly as she wipes an opponent’s blood from her arrow whether or not he was really her enemy, or if The Viewers, her “sponsors” and the nameless faceless entities looming overhead might be the ones really responsible for her troubles. For a half page, it’s time for everyone to put on their serious faces…and then she wisely tells herself that thinking about things like that in the middle of the hunt is a luxury she cannot afford. Which is really The Hunger Games’ attitude towards…you know…philosophy and ethics and stuff.

Related Reviews:
Catching Fire

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