The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic: paperback published 2011: 454 pages

MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOUR

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a darek vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

The Hunger Games came to my attention when I realised it was being turned into a film (as derogatory as I am about adaptations, they do wonders for the profile of the book). I also noticed that they were doing “grown up” covers instead of the garish Young Adult covers that are so off-putting when an adult wants to read them in public. So I gave it a go!

I can see why it’s been made in to a film. The novel itself is very visual and reads very much scene-by-scene. My issue came when I realised that I didn’t particularly like the main character –annoyingly, she’s good at everything, and also a bit selfish (which doesn’t make sense as she “sacrifices” herself for her little sister at the beginning). The premise of the story is this: there are twelve districts that every year have to donate a boy and a girl to something called the Hunger Games– where they battle to the death in front of TV cameras. Think Battle Royale crossed with Big Brother and throw in some Lord of the Flies for good measure and you pretty much get the idea. This is, in fact, a BRILLIANT idea for a book. I mean, check out the Peril, the Character Development, the Story Arc. Here’s where it goes wrong… you get a main character who technically you should like, but you simply can’t bring yourself to do it. There’s an awful lot of time discussing what animal she’s hunting or food she’s eating or how quiet she is, or how good with a bow and arrow she is, or how she’s rescuing people all the time. There’s very little emotion – and when there is, it feels very false.

I really enjoyed the book from the viewpoint that a Battle to the Death is the height of TV viewing. You could go in to the philosophical debate of how close we are to this in reality (but Charlie Brooker already did that with his Black Mirror series on the BBC). I didn’t enjoy it because actually, I didn’t really want Kat to win. I got to the end of the book, and even though I wanted to read the two sequels because the writing is good and the premise of the story is great and it could do so well, I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear about how wonderful Kat is – when really, she’s a bit of a cow.

Young Adult fiction is a guaranteed entertaining read (unless you go for an angst-and-drama Twilight rip-off). I still go back to Junk and other teen favourites. Philip Pullman’s trilogy was YA, and The Book Thief was produced as YA too. That’s why I always throw in a YA book to my reading list every now and then –the entertainment factor is often even better than adult fiction. As for The Hunger Games? I hope Kat is nicer in the film.

Rating: 5/10

Next book: I am getting told to read lots of books lately, and as I wait for The Orphan’s Tales to turn up (thanks Lunameth), I’m following the guidance of Stacey B. Stacey B works for We Love this Book, and tweeted about how much she enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber the other day. As it was on my shelf, I’ve picked it up. The narrative is second-person present, which I’m not used to, so I’m having to quickly learn!

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