The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins – 9/10

“Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games”

For those few people left in the world who haven’t read the book or seen the film… Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12, the most deprived of the districts of Panem. When her younger sister is selected as a sacrificial tribute to the Hunger Games, a TV show run for the amusement of the Capitol and the suppression of the districts, Katniss runs to take her place. Once she gets there though, she will need all her instincts and wit, not just her honed hunting skills, to survive.

The most obviously positive aspect of this novel is the choice of protagonist. Katniss is not perfect, and she knows it. Highly skilled, by all means, diligent and hard-working and caring for others, certainly. But she is proud and headstrong and thinks she knows best in every situation and is cruel to both Gale and Peeta – and best of all , she recognises her own failings. Collins could easily have chosen the gentle giant Peeta, with his superior charm, world wisdom and general all-round goodness, to be her protagonist – the Ellie Linton of Panem. Harry Potter had failings but wasn’t really aware of them. Bella… well we all know that Bella just sits around waiting for Edward or Jacob or some other lovesick demon to kiss her. So I was impressed both by Collins’ courage in giving Katniss non-trivial character flaws, but also granting her the wisdom to see them and how they might impact others.

The other characters are very strong as well – and Collins hits the mix of development neatly. Peeta is in some ways more complex than Katniss, and we can’t help but like him. The rest of the characters are fairly one-dimensional, but that is all that is required for the plot to progress. Because we’re stuck in Katniss’ head, we only learn about the other characters as she considers them, which is a neat way to make Peeta’s actions more mysterious.

The plot? Well, I’m not usually a sci-fi fan. I’ve steered clear of the YA craze for dystopia. But I read all but 30 pages of the book on a two-and-a-bit-hour train trip and couldn’t wait to have a chance to finish it that afternoon. I was rapt. Collins hit just the right mix of sci-fi and today’s world that it was a different world (and one that was very hard to pull myself out of!) without being a foreign one. We spent enough time in District 12 setting up Katniss’ character, her bitterness, her difficult relationship with her mother, the dynamic with Gale and the total malnutrition. Then off on the train to the Capitol, and there is lots of time for the Katniss-Peeta thing/non-thing to be a thing, and then into the arena. Where it is no holds barred – and yet not grisly. Or maybe I don’t notice these things.

Highly recommended.

Additional info:
Copy borrowed from Mini-me. Now borrowed by The Physicist!
Publisher: Scholastic, 374 pages (hardcover)
Order The Hunger Games Classic (Hunger Games Trilogy) from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting costs.
About these ads

9 thoughts on “The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins – 9/10

  1. Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews 11 April 2012 at 10:41 am Reply

    My enjoyment of this novel has made me seriously rethink my previous avoidance of the YA genre.

    • readingwithtea 11 April 2012 at 10:52 am Reply

      Absolutely. The few YA novels I’ve tried have been really top-notch.

  2. Alex 11 April 2012 at 10:55 am Reply

    Interesting point about Peeta being (in some ways) more complex than Katniss. I agree with you on that. She’s all instinct and survival, but that’s also because she’s top of the food-chain. He has to survive using other, more subtle, ways. On top of that he’s in love with someone who possibly must kill him to survive…

    There’s a scene in the movie (which I’m now not sure that it exists in the book) where, the night before the Games, they’re talking and Peeta says that he only wishes that he could find ways to stay the same, to ensure that the Capitol knows they don’t own him. Katniss replies “I can’t afford to think like that”. It illustrates very well the type of people they are.

    • readingwithtea 11 April 2012 at 2:05 pm Reply

      It definitely exists in the book – see my quote at the top of the review. Except in the book they are talking on the roof because it’s the only place they can be sure they won’t be spied on.
      I think Peeta is a really interesting character and the film has only made me think so more. Gale is much less subtle.

  3. [...] The Hunger Games – the book [...]

  4. [...] the first one, and then read this one. Just go and do it, now. And watch the [...]

  5. [...] had a rather good time with YA literature pretty much any time I’ve read any (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Before I Die, Elsewhere), I thought I’d finally give in and try out one of [...]

  6. [...] have been plenty of books which affected me emotionally (most recently probably The Hunger Games – I was very easily upset for the rest of the day) but I don’t often cry; I’m [...]

  7. […] Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I Capture the Castle, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Jane Eyre, Hunger Games, Bel Canto*, I’m looking at all of you […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 697 other followers

%d bloggers like this: