Off to a great start

Posted by Marie on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 in , , ,
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins Science Fiction, YA; ISBN 0-439-02348-3; Scholastic Press, 2008.

Dystopian societies are not new in the world of science fiction, and neither are gladiatorial games. These two succinctly describe Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, the first book of a trilogy that describes the future nation of Panem, a nation comprised of a capitol city surrounded by twelve outlying districts. To keep the people of these districts subservient and frightened, the Capitol yearly hold The Hunger Games, where twenty-four children from the districts are forced to fight each other to the death. Enter our heroine Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year old girl from District 12. Life had made her into a survivor – but can she survive the arena of the Hunger Games?

I got my copy of the book one night when two nice people from Scholastic came to meet a few book bloggers. I must admit I wasn’t impressed the first time I read the blurb. The plot is a mixture of different science fiction, historical and fantasy novels and movies (let me just enumerate those that I know: The Running Man, Spartacus, Gladiator and the most comparable of them all, the Japanese movie and book, Battle Royale), not to mention that it borrowed heavily from usual Greek mythology sources (the Minotaur tale, to be exact) and those popular reality shows (umm, Survivor & Big Brother, anyone?).

I was therefore surprised when I found myself hooked after just reading the first chapter. It is one of those books that you can’t put down – to use that old and tired phrase, this one is a page turner. It struck me that for a dystopian novel, The Hunger Games is surprisingly full of hope. This lack of cynicism is probably what had appealed to me. Katniss is a survivor yes, but she is also a symbol of human decency and compassion even in the face of moral and societal degradation. Suzanne Collins made her characters unforgettable. I’m also pleased with the way romance had been handled. To intermesh it to the basic survival of our heroes is one clever plot trick.

I’m annoyed at how the marketing people overly do the hype for the trilogy, even when the last one is still non-existent. Ms. Collins doesn’t need the extra pressure right now, and I just hope this clamor will not affect the quality of the last book. I like Katniss of course, but I hope that other characters would be fleshed out by the second and third book (would love to know more about Peeta and Haymitch). So until I read the next two installments, I consider this review incomplete.

5 out of 5 stars



This is a great review, Marie! Perhaps we can also include, as a sidebar to the discussion for this book, the impact of marketing on people's reading habits.

Good idea Peter! The marketing people from the bookstore would definitely be interested in this too, which will be great for us book geeks. :)

nice one. the marketing angle is a good food for thought, as something that may actually turn off some people even as it drives big bucks to the sales of the series.

Hype by itself isn't all that bad, imho, especially if the product fully deserves all that talk (the Harry Potter series comes into mind). What I'm worried about is that there is a possibilty that the author might become affected by the marketing and the fans' clamor. I don't want to see this series degenerate into some sort of glorified fanfic of itself, much like what had happened to Twilight (although I have to admit, the Twilight series was all hype but slim-to-none decent material).

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