Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (GRADE: B)

I recently finished The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  My friend MM (soon to be MS) recommended this book to me.  Soon afterwards, another friend EA also recommended the book to me.  When two independent sources enthusiastically recommend the same book, I must take notice and so I did.  I grade the book a B- (but it was a B+ with respect to it being a page-turner).  It was a fun read.

The Hunger Games takes place in a post-apocalyptic America called Panem.  There is a capitol and 12 surrounding poorer districts.  Every year, two children (or tributes) between the ages of 12 to 18 years old are chosen by lottery from each of the 12 districts, 24 children in all.  They are taken to an arena where each tribute must fight the others to the death until there is only one remaining.

Katniss Everdeen from District 12, the coal mining district, volunteers to take the place of her younger sister, Primrose, who is chosen to be a tribute.  The story is about Katniss's fight for survival in the Hunger Games and her uncertain relationship with Peeta, the other tribute from District 12.  More than who lives and dies, the result of this year's games may have great consequences for all of Panem.

The writing is interesting.  It is written in the first person present, probably so the reader gets the sense of immediacy as the action happens to Katniss.  In addition, the reader doesn't know if the narrator survives because of the way it is written.  I had a hard time adjusting to this style.  Some people loved it; I did not at first but I eventually got used to it.  At times, Collins falls into using too many words, especially adverbs.  Her writing is strong enough, her scenes are written well enough that the reader doesn't need the adverbs to help complete the picture.  In fact, some of her additional descriptions were, at times, distracting.

The real strength of this book was its neck-breaking pace once Katniss entered the arena.  The story was engaging and suspenseful.

I enjoyed the world that Collins built especially the personality of each district.

There were a few things that I didn't like.  Katniss was fickle and pessimistic.  Her flavor as a character was more like a suburban school girl than a hardened hunter from District 12.  I felt like her POV was meant to distract the reader.  What she believes will happen or her thinks is a person's motivation usually turns out to be wrong.

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  I don't think that I was the primary audience that Collins had in mind when she wrote the book; I think that the audience was probably a 14 year old girl.  But the book can be enjoyed by anyone at any age as long as they keep in mind that the primary audience is young adult.  Character development was a weakness in the book.  At times, I found Katniss's character annoying (and not in a good way as some caustic characters in other books are).  But the book was very engaging.  So overall, I would give the book a B-.  It was a fun read and I would recommend this book especially if you want a book that you can read on the beach.  :)  It was a cold and snowy winter this year; I look forward to the days of sand and surf.  Soon...soon.

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