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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Book Review

21 Mar

You can find The Hunger Games at your local bookstore or online retailer.

Note: When I originally read this trilogy, it was not with the intention to write a book review in the future.  This review is mainly to give you my overall opinion on the series, not an in-depth account of the content inside. If you would like, feel free to comment and ask any questions involving my opinions you have about the book and I will be happy to answer them as best I can, but I can’t promise to have everything important written in this one post. 

If you think these books seem unsettling to you, I strongly advise you do research on them and read multiple reviews before deciding to pursue them as a form of entertainment. As with any book you consume, be sure to read with caution and do your research.

A few friends had suggested to me The Hunger Games as a good read, when I had asked for interesting books. I was wary at first, since all my questions about the storyline were meant with disconcerting comments about twenty four tributes killing each other and love triangles. However, when I came across the trilogy at my local bookstore, I had an hour or so to read away so I sat down with the first book and contented myself reading. 

Before I was half way through the first chapter, it was clear why this book had become a best seller. As someone who finds reading to sometimes be a struggle when descriptions get too complex and POVs are jumbled, I enjoyed the coherency of Collins’s writing. 

The characters had depth and the narrative had a voice. I was quickly consumed in the fictional world of Panem, watching it all with my own eyes. The entire book rushed before me in a shockingly fast speed. The plot never stopped to let me take a breath. 

From the depth of the characters to the cruelty of the Capitol, there were so many factors that tied together wonderfully in this first book. 

Taking place in the post-apocalyptic ruins of North America, The Hunger Games introduces the readers to a place where there are 12 districts. The 13th was annihilated by the Capitol when it defied the cruel Capitol’s leadership years ago. 

Since the rebellion of district 13 an annual Hunger Games was announced. Each district gives up a boy and a girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to be sent to the Capitol. They will then train, be objectified, and interviewed, in hopes to gain sponsors for the actual event.

The event? A to-the-death battle in an arena stimulating a natural environment, whether it be mountains, forest, island, ocean, or what have you. The twenty four tributes will be thrust into the arena and forced to kill each other until only one is standing. 

This is exactly the fate that Katniss Everdeen – the main character – was handed, when she volunteered as tribute for District 12. The story of what happens to this tribute when she is forced into this fight between life and death; fame and poverty, is then written down in the first person, present tense book that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Negative Content:

People die in so many ways that I’ve lost track; insect bites, snapped necks, explosions, being caught in a net then having a spear thrown through them, arrows, knives, and being mauled by mutant wolves…just to name the deaths I can recall. 

That said, even with the violence content that shoots through the roof, Collins writes it well, in a way that is done tactfully. She describes all the deaths as a-matter-of-fact and does not go into gory and unnecessary details in order to make the readers squirm. 

Of all the deaths, I can think of only one that is notably more graphic than the others. The final tribute dies in a brutal way, by being attacked by ‘mutts’ (mutant wolves created by the gamemakers) and spends the night slowly being eaten alive. He endures the slow death, until Katniss feels mercy upon him and ends his life quickly, with her last arrow. 

Other than the deaths, the tributes also receive countless injuries. Burns, bites, cuts, and other such nasty things. The worst injury being one to Peeta’s leg, which results in blood poisoning and a near-death scenario. 

The mentor for the tributes from district 12, Haymitch, is consistently drunk both on and off camera and lacks both manners and the necessary etiquette to be a good role model. Only one of the adult character in this book shows potential for Mentorship, Cinna, but he is in there only temporarily. 

Katniss’s mum lacks parental care in the beginning of the book, having forced Katniss to fend for the family since her father died. Peeta’s family is implied as being abusive, and he shows no connection to them. 

The capitol is corrupt and rules through fear in a dictatorship-like fashion. They obsessive over appearance, and objectify the tributes for their own entertainment and monetary gain. 

Positive Content: 

While this book has enough negative content to make it difficult to sum it all up in one review, Collins does an outstanding job of using most if not all of the negative content to teach lessons. She portrays the things done in the Hunger Games and actions of the Capitol to be wrong, and shows how the actions of others can have longstanding effects. 

Sacrifice is exercised on multiple occasions, starting with Katniss volunteering as tribute when her sister is reaped. Peeta also shows care and love by protecting and fighting for Katniss.

There is perseverance shown by both the main characters; defiance of evil, and Peeta expresses that he wants to be independent from the dictatorship of the Capitol, explaining that he doesn’t want to be a piece of their property when he dies in the games. 

Katniss’s love for her younger sister, Primose, is certainly admirable, as well as her kindness towards a younger tribute that she helps in the arena. 

While the main characters do kill to survive, they show remorse and even pity for the dead tributes. Death isn’t taken lightly by them, and it isn’t portrayed as such. Each life is individual, and even the characters forced to kill show vague awareness of this by their reactions to murdering fellow tributes.

Conclusion: 

Personally, I’m a huge fan of this trilogy, especially the first book. Every bit is truly extraordinary and worth the read. However, I can understand its not the book for everybody. From the violence content, to the lack of direct moral messages, many people might find it to be a controversial book.  

Because of the mixed messages and the violence content, I probably wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers. It’s hard book to swallow, with a lot of content and very much controversy hidden inside. Making both political and moral statements, it can be difficult to comprehend and take in.  

Regardless, I’d still recommend this book quickly to anybody who thinks this would be the kind of read they would like. It really is an excellent book, and Collins pulls it all together wonderfully. 

-Bethany Faith

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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Book Reviews, Rants, Writing Tips

 

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