Monday, October 26, 2009

Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press, 2008
ISBN 978-0439023481
384 pages

Reading Level: Young Adult

I am not going to wait until the end of my scholarly review to tell you what I think of this book: it’s great, and to mangle a tired old clichĂ©, nearly unputdownable. Collins has written a non-stop sci-fi tale that is light on sci-fi, stars a sixteen-year-old female protagonist, and stresses personal moral beliefs without preaching.

The place is Panem, site of the former United States, and consists of twelve districts and the Capitol. The time is the near future. Collins does not employ the five basic requisites of journalism—who, what, when, where, and why—because they aren’t relevant to the story.

What is relevant is the total subjugation of the people in the districts by the Capitol. There was a thirteenth district, but because the people dared to protest the meager distribution of “food”, the Capitol, in a show of Sci-Fi wizardry, obliterated the district and every human being living in it.

The Hunger Games. Held once a year, they are the ultimate tribute to the power, greatness, and largesse of the Capitol. Chosen by lottery, each district sends two teenagers as its representatives to the Games; twenty-four to start, one to win both personal fame and extra rations for his or her district.

The other twenty-three? They are all dead, either at the hands of the other contestants or by the Capitol’s tech- nological ability to alter the playing field environment.

Amazon and reviewers have revealed way too much of the story, which I believe should be the reader’s privilege. Katniss, however, the sixteen-year-old rep from District 12, bears mentioning. She is a strong-willed girl who refuses to give up her mind and soul to the monsters who run Panem. She is determined to retain her humanness, and she will do anything to keep it—including killing if necessary.

But isn’t that a dichotomy? How, exactly, does Katniss reconcile the notion of killing in order to retain her humanity?

I’m sorry to say this, but we the readers, don’t know. This is Book One of a trilogy, so I will have to read the second one: Catching Fire, published on September 1, 2009.

I'm glad that Collins chose a female as protagonist, making this more than a "boys' book." School Library Journal recommends The Hunger Games for Grades 7 and up—despite the graphic violence—but what do I know about twelve- and thirteen-year-old kids nowadays? Or what their parents allow them to read?

Rather, I give it two pinkie fingers up for adults.


Wandering Coyote said...

OK, I skipped over this review because I don't want to know ANYTHING before reading this book! It's next on my TBR list! I'm really looking forward to it!

Pat said...

I did the same as WC because I have a blind spot about sci- fi. Sad isn't it?

Tiffin said...

Read every word, Perfesser, and now I'd like to read the book, ye divvil ye.

St Jude said...

I, like Pat, don't normally look at sci-fi, however that said one of my resolutions since returning to blogland is that I intend to utilise the reviews I read and broaden my horizens. So I'll add it to my list and give it a go.

Charlie said...

WC: I meant to tell you not to read this review, but I then figured that you would skip it. I really want an unbiased review from you.

PAT: I dislike SF too--much of it is too confusing--but this book is SF lite with almost no tech/nerd talk.

TUI: I am a bit of a divvil, aren't I.
Like sabotaging your LT thread.

SAINT J: I try to choose books that I think will appeal to a general audience. Remember, though, that this is MY opinion only, and please do not get angry at me if you don't like it.

Diane said...

I'm like the only person who has not read these (2) books. Someday! I don't usually read YA that is why it has not been high priority.

Pat said...

Maybe like Jude I'll give it a go. I did with thrillers and was not disappointed.

Eric said...

I really enjoyed The Hunger Games and Catching Fire I can't wait for book 3 and the movie. Anyways really nice review

kara said...

damnit! i was willing to give it a one book commitment! but two?! who has that kind of time!

i'm in the middle of something called the end of mr. y. i'd be interested in your professional opinion (since i did a quick blog search to make sure you haven't reviewed it yet).

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Sounds intriguing! There were moments in your review when I was reminded of the novel Moscow 2042, which I also greatly enjoyed.

Charlie said...

DIANE: There is a lot of good YA out there, which I started reading after the excellent The Book Thief.

PAT: Like I told the Saint, if you give it a go and don't like it, please don't come back here and yell at me. I hate yelling.

ERIC: Thank you for the compliment, and your website is fantastic!

KARA: I know you're busy and everything, Alice, but you only have to read one at a time and there's no time limit.

My opinion of the book you're reading is, I've never heard of it. I'll check it out, though.

BARBARA: Did you know that your name is typed only with the left hand?

I'll have to check out the book you mentioned too. So many books, so little time and all that.

Kim Ayres said...

Sounds like one for Rogan - I'll make a note - thanks :)

Kevin Musgrove said...

It's good to have a female protagonist in YA SF for a change. Outside of Manga (which I find to be deeply misogynistic anyway) they're as rare as hen's teeth.

Charlie said...

KIM: If you think it's up Rogan's alley then I'm pretty sure he'll enjoy it.

KEVIN: I agree, and I think Collins was very smart to choose a female.

Michael said...

I really wanted to get to this book before the end of this year, but looks like it will have to wait. I've only heard great things about it.