Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Hunger Games

If I could've I would've read this book all in one sitting. It's that engrossing. I loved the Gregor books, and again Suzanne Collins doesn't disappoint. As in The Underland Chronicles, she's the master of capturing a scene or a character with very few words.

There's nothing lyrical or poetic about Collins' language; rather the few words and images she picks area always dead on. It's the epitome of science-fiction/fantasy writing--clean, clear, and straightforward. That, of course, does make the violence a bit gruesome since you have no trouble picturing it exactly.

But, actually, for me it wasn't as bad as it had been built up to be (though I wouldn't recommend it for anyone younger than 14). And, really, for being a violent, action-packed dystopia novel, it's loaded with humanity. In fact, I sometimes found myself feeling the author was letting her characters off too easily. In a world designed to force even the most humane to act inhumanly, her characters never had to completely face the monster within.

I think that's because the story Collins really wanted to tell was the slow, even frustrating at times, transformation of her main character, Katniss. For me, this seemed primarily a story of Katniss learning how receive love, how to trust in it, and how to return it.

What an unexpected setting for such a story: an enclosed, highly controlled and manipulated world of futuristic reality television, where you win when all the other players are dead. Add to this an obsession with unreal physical beauty, and the Hunger Games look almost too much like what often passes for modern entertainment.

But it's not social commentary that makes this book, it's the characters. Katniss especially is intriguingly complex, a very real mix of selfish and selfless. Though she has the survivor's instinct, and she doesn't think of herself as someone who loves people, she naturally reaches out and takes care of others. In this book, she is just beginning the journey to understand herself and how she connects with the people around her. I look forward to watching the rest of the journey. I'm not very patient with series and often don't finish them. But this one, I'm sure I'll finish.

p.s. Since writing this review, I did finish the series and wasn't crazy about how Collins ended it. (hmmm . . . I didn't like how she wrapped up The Underland Chronicles either.) Still, I'm glad I read Hunger Games.


Blogger Lisa said...

I've been interested in this series, but if it doesn't end that well, maybe I don't need to read all the books. Would I have enough closure if I just read the first one?

Blogger Cheri said...

Not sure. It might be if you knew going in that you weren't going to finish the series. But the books are definitely written to make you wait eagerly for the next.

In spite of the ending, I might (maybe) say go ahead and read the whole series and see what everyone's talking about.

I'll post my Goodreads review of Mockingjay on 7 Sisters.


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