Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I hummed and haaed over whether or not to join the rest of the planet and read the Hunger Games books. On the one hand, I hate to be a sheep and read things purely because of the hype, but on the other it would be nice to be able to join in with all the conversations everyone else is having about them. I never read Harry Potter or Twilight and, while I'm sure I haven't missed out on a great literary gem, I still sometimes look blank when people mention Dumbledore or Bella and wonder what they're going on about. So, I took the plunge and downloaded the first book last night. Then I stayed up until 3am just to finish it. Oh dear, what have I started!

The Hunger Games, as I'm sure most of you already know, is set in a future land (what's left of America long after a great cataclysm), split into 12 districts plus a capital. To punish the citizens of the 12 districts for an uprising many years before, the residents of the Capitol demand a tribute from each of them, consisting of two children, between the ages of 12 and 17, one boy and one girl. Having been chosen by lot, these children, after a brief period of training, are thrust into a vast arena consisting of forests, plains, rivers and lakes, where they must fight each other to the death until only one remains - a grisly battle lasting several days which the entire country watches on screens for entertainment. The victor is allowed to return home to his family, where he or she can now live a life of ease and luxury, hailed as a hero and a paragon of the district.

Our heroine and narrator is Katniss, a poor young resident of District 12, who volunteers herself for the games as a replacement for her beloved younger sister when her name comes up. Her male counterpart from District 12 is Peeta, who soon wins the hearts of the nation when he confesses on live television that he is in love with Katniss. But is he telling the truth or merely trying to gain favour from rich sponsors? Katniss spends much of the book examining Peeta's motives and wondering if he is about to betray her.

I can certainly see why this book is so popular with young fans. It's plot-driven and really delivers on excitement. The games themselves provide heaps of opportunity for tension and every chapter ends on a cliffhanger to ensure you keep on turning those pages. There's quite a lot of violence, as you can imagine given the subject matter, so I wouldn't recommend it for younger children, but for older teens it's a great read.

My usual criticism of YA is that there's a lack of character development and that does apply here; there's a lot more about the events themselves than how our characters feel about them. Peeta, in particular, is a definite stereotype without a great deal of personality and Cato - the main enemy from amongst their opponents - might as well be a bulldozer. But it's a bit if fun and I have to admit I got caught up in the story just as much as any 16 year old.

Will I go on to read the rest of the trilogy? Yes, of course I will!


  1. I've done exactly the same. Despite the MANY posts telling me that I absolutely should read it, I was never actually convinced that I would enjoy it. Then I got a Waterstones voucher, there was a big shiny display when I went in to "just look around" and I was lost. I've obviously already bought Catching Fire - people were right, this is one addictive series!

    I know what you mean about the lack of character development but when you're swept through a story this fast, it's kind of hard to be that bothered, isn't it? :s

    1. Ha! Yes, you're absolutely right :-)

  2. It is a page-turner, isn't it. I read it before I started blogging or knew it was a 'thing'.

    I'm torn at times about hyped books-- it is fun to be 'in the know' with everyone but Im a nonconformist sort too. When I do read a crazy popular book, it usually turns out to be a highly diverting read-- there is a reason the masses are raving, after all. So I feel silly for waiting so long to read it. But I still haven't read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo... just doesn't appeal to me.

    By the way, HP is a delightful read-- I also started that series before I knew it was a 'thing'. I never intended to read the Twilight series but it was foisted on me by a librarian friend-- some annoying bits and not worth obsessing over like some of those crazy fans do-- BUT still a fun entertaining read.


    1. I've had The Woman in Black on my pile for well over a year, but now it's been turned into such a successful film I've gone off reading it! I know it's stupid of me :-)

      I may get round to HP, or even Twilight, one day, but there are so many other books I want to read it could be a long time.