Monday, July 26, 2010

Book Review- The Hunger Games

So there's been a lot of talk about a series called The Hunger Games by children's television writer Suzanne Collins (Clarissa Explains it All, Oswald) which has been dubbed the next Twilight (which I am not a fan of but will save my review of it for another day) so I recently took a trip to Borders to see what the hype is all about. The Hunger Games is the name of the first book in this soon to be trilogy followed by Catching Fire and Mocking Jay (to be released in August). The series has been making quite an explosive scene in the young adult community and currently a film adaption is in development with Collins helming the screen play herself. So is it worth the read? Here is my as spoiler free as possible review.

Even though its been given the title as the next Twilight I don't believe you have to be a Twilight lover to be entertained by this book. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world where North America, renamed Panem, is divided into twelve (once thirteen) districts and The Capitol, a rich totalitarian government that dictates the poor districts. As punishment for a rebellion led by District 13 years ago, the Capitol holds the annual Hunger Games in which a boy and a girl from each district is selected at random by lottery to compete in a outdoor televised arena in which they are forced to kill each other until only one remains. Our heroine in the novel is 16-year old Katniss Everdeen from District 12 who volunteers to enter the games when her little sister Prim's name is drawn as the tribute for their district. The novel follows Katniss's journey into the games and her fight for survival, humanity and love.

Intrigued? Expecting another Twilight, I was surprised by the lack of similarities this novel had with Twilight. Our main character Katniss much more likeable and is not your typical Mary Sue. The novel is narrated from her point of view and the audience can see her many weakness yet a great inner strength as well. As a skilled hunter and archer, she becomes a strong contender in the games. You could say that there is a budding romance in the novel between our girl and another one of the game competitors; however, unlike another character in another series cough...cough...Bella, her judgment and decisions aren't fogged by irrational, nonsensical feelings for a boy.

I'll admit that this isn't the most original story in the world. While reading it I kept thinking about its plot line similarities with Battle Royale. The Hunger Games is not nearly as gritty, compelling, well written, or emotionally involved as Battle Royale or many other books I've read. The writing style is simple and length wise its pretty short. This book could have been great if there was more room left to develop the concept of this dystopian, sci-fi world that our heroine lives in. The world of Panem is still a vague one in my head besides its basic authoritarian, government oppressive characteristics. The characters are for the most part likeable but they lacked development as well. Two of our main characters at the end seemed relatively unchanged even after having gone through an incredible ordeal. Despite my complaints, this book is the epitome of reading for entertainment and the writing style is throughly engaging. I read the entire novel in one take because I couldn't put it down. If your looking for a short entertaining read for a long car ride, this is the one. Look for my review of the second installment later on.

Recommended- Final Score 7/10

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