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Monday, December 5, 2011

Review of Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins has produced a high quality, well executed series based on speculative-modern gladiatorial games featuring who else, but children. As a child of the Harry Potter phenomena, I grew to expect series’ to instantly capture my attention and draw me into their whimsical worlds. But that was not so.  A handful of disappointing first installments left me jaded as I took on Collins’ story. I was proven wrong as I hungered to read page-after-page and ultimately book-after-book.
Focusing on the titular first book for this review, I found myself most intrigued by her style of writing. I’m a first-person-hater to begin with, but she convinced me that this unreliable and slightly narcissistic style can be written well and furthermore, enjoyable. I cherished the intimate understanding of Katniss Everdeen this point of view provided and it certainly helped to piecing together the sadistic world of Panem. From the reaping to the final play of the games, Collins succeeded in bringing Katniss’ emotions to life.
The flow from one chapter to another was impeccable; her cliffhangers are well placed and create a burning desire to read more. On the other hand, I would have enjoyed the exposition and resolution chapters of the story to be more than summary or an instant drop-off. Accordingly, the pacing of the novel left a sense of incompleteness as some seemingly important moments were all but glazed over. I don’t mind the passage of time cutting to the chase, but not over the chase (I’ll admit this applies more aptly to the sequels, but does show itself in this first book). The overall plot is generally predictable, at least for a seasoned reader, but that doesn’t detract from the pleasure it brings to each passing page.
An achievement of note from Hunger Games is displayed in Collins' array of quirky characters. They reflect the bizarre circus The Capitol encourages while also demonstrating the struggles of the surrounding districts. Peeta, the boy with the bread, as she calls him, was one I quickly related to and found positively charming (it helped that he sparked most of the unexpected plot turns and reminds me of my own main character). His way with words was not lost on this writer. There are other characters, Gale and Prim, who one would assume deserved more page time by virtue of their relationship to Katniss, but were as fleeting and underdeveloped as shooting stars. And yet, Rue, a girl who crosses into Katniss’ world for a brief part of the games, drew me close to tears upon her exit.
The games themselves were brilliantly described, not only bringing the arena to life, but allowing the reader to feel the fear and paranoia of all the tributes. Not neglecting a single aspect of horror, Collins does not shy away from grotesque killings or descriptions of injuries. This does benefit the frankly deranged concept, but it also rises the reading age to above her intended target audience. Furthermore, while I understand a lovelorn Katniss caught between two suitors propelled the plot, it drew nearer to a cliché with every question about her feelings she left ignored. I can let it slide given her base of readers, but it was an aggrivating point worth mentioning. The spectacle of the games brings to light the absurdity of this world in an approachable manner that young readers can comprehend. Especially noteworthy is in the final play of the game. At this turning point, Collins’ creates a benchmark for young readers to understand that individual identity should always come out the victor.  
Although a bit brainless, Katniss engages the reader throughout her heart wrenching journey as Collins’ capitalizes on delivering a story that holds nothing back.  


  1. Nice review and I am glad that you liked it overall. One of the parts that aggravates me the most is how fast the end of the third book is and how it feel like big, important parts of the plot are skimmed over in the last few chapters. After reading all the books and not wanting to put it down, the true end of it all felt too fast and almost like a dream.


  2. I couldn't agree more. Thanks for sharing your perspective!