Not a Typical 5 Star Review- Series Part 1: The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #1
Published: Oct 31, 2008 by Scholastic Inc.
Blurb from Goodreads.com “In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, the shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before–and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love“
Perfection! That is how I feel after reading Suzanne Collins first novel. A feeling that little if anything could be done to improve this novel. The sentence structure flows nicely, sweeping me hurriedly along toward the end which I find satisfying enough I don’t want to rip my hair out and yet suspenseful enough I quickly go to search for the sequel. A rare find at all and an especially strong start from a debut novel. The great mix of secondary characters from the Districts to the capitol are relatively well fleshed out given the time spent with them and each and every one evokes a surprising amount of emotion for the lovable Madge Undersee who was a true friend after all to the oblivious but sincere Prep Team who readers along with Katniss want to strangle and hug simultaneously. The action is exciting and driving enough for older reads without becoming overly graphic, making this a book to excite parents and one thats acceptable for their youngsters.
And yada yada so on and so on blah blah blah, because I am sure I am NOT the first person to love the Hunger Games nor would it be even moderately original of me to write to wonderful aspects of this novel. So how about instead I discuss those “few if any” problems found in this novel that most seem to overlook in ratings, including myself, because as a whole this novel is spectacular.
So lets look at the problems in overall realism in this novel. Note some spoilers will ensue.
Top 5 Things Wrong with a 5 Star Novel
- The lack of realism in the rules of the games, society, and the unofficial rules Katniss sets up for her survival in the arena. Somehow we are expected to believe that after 74 years of tradition in the Games, the rules are now changed, but just this once, simply because Peeta and Katniss are so in luuuurve? Then when they openly defy the Capitol, the President is mad but everyone is allowed to live? No real consequence of their actions occurs? Now Haymitch family was killed because a force field threw and ax he dodged at an opponent but nothing happens to Katniss. Finally while in the arena Katniss is tree’d by a girl with a freaking bow, but the girl doesn’t shoot her? Doesn’t wait for her to sleep then shoot her? Something!!! Of course not. When Rue has been killed Katniss has the time to put down her bow and do flower time with the corpse, of course nobody would try and kill her while she’s defenseless. No one would happen upon her in a clearing. Realistic? No.
- So its commonly understood that when a tribute isn’t getting bloody enough, the Gamemakers step in. Just because Katniss is getting kinda far from the other tributes, they set the forest on fire. So they aren’t afraid to get messy. Yet somehow both of the victors, to our knowledge, hardly ever kill anyone. Katniss kills come down to dropping a bee hive on some girls, killing in vengeance of Rue (actual kill yes, but bloody and violent? No. It actually makes Katniss more likable in her grief. Not the gladiator style goal) and a mercy killing of Cato, who would’ve died anyway and she was once again just being a good person. And as for Peeta, well he paints himself pretty and makes one kill, confidently, by a girl stealing his poisoned berries. O yeah, these victors are some awesome bloodthirsty killers all right. Definitely a Hunger Games battle to the death.
- KATNISS FLIP-FLOPPING ON RELATIONSHIPS. Sorry, this one bugs me in particular with her Bella as of New Moon complex. So Katniss is a teenage girl, she 16 and pretty and goes to school. Yes she lives in a horrible world and has to fight for food (but actually is better off with her hunting than a lot of people). But even with her District 12 world, she is a teenager. So when this teenage girl gets to spend lots of alone time in the woods with super hot, popular guy in the Seam that all the girls dream over Gale, Katniss never once thinks “this guys hot. I like this guy.” Nope. Never once, even after he kisses her and offers to run away with her does Katniss fully realize, hey maybe this super hot guy that can hunt and provide for me may actually like me, we are teenagers after all with hormones and such. No, she doesn’t. Because what kind of weird, crazy 16 year old girl would like an attractive guy or notice he liked her. Then you have Peeta. Peeta loved her for like 10 years now, has suffered a beating for her, gives he longing looks at school but does Katniss notice. Nope. Peeta professes his love for her on national television when he has no idea how she feels (because teenage guys would do that) and what does Katniss think? No of course she doesn’t think Peeta likes her, she thinks its a ploy to make her seem weak. Really Suzanne Collins? You where a teenage girl right? So now shes in the arena she is forced to pretend to like the attractive boy in love with her, who also coincidentally would die to protect her and is a baker that could give her a great life if she liked him back. He life sucks right. She’ll just pretend to like him, because she doesn’t, then she might, then she doesn’t, well maybe. No, how would Gale, the guy who she doesn’t really accept likes her and she doesn’t like feel about her and Peeta. She best not like Peeta, because now that she can’t have Gale, she decides to consider him, maybe. So in conclusion, shes a 16 year old girl with two hot guys that love her and could provide for her, but she doesn’t like either of them. Realistic? No.
- While it does flesh out a little in the coming books, a beef I have with Hunger Games is the lack of explanation for how this world of came to be. Why did the war that led to the Hunger Games start in the first place? How did they come up with the Hunger Games? What about the 12/13 Districts, how did they come to be? Really, how did we get from America today to the world Katniss lives in. We are given little background and expected to hate their government based on the fact that the citizens we meet hate the government, even though throughout history plenty of government have dominated those they defeat in a war. While the Hunger Games itself is an atrocity, even in modern day soldiers rape and beat women and children as they conquer towns in the hostile African regions (not condoning it, just saying it happens), so I find it a stretch to be expected to declare the Capitol so evil it must be overthrown based solely on the Games. Everything is a little to black and white and is that realistic? Not really.
- Finally, a small opinion on my part but I lost some respect for the book based on the introduction of the love triangle. This is a novel and series that would have survived well and been possibly better without the focus place on the unnecessary conflict of to chose Peeta or Gale. It frightens me that now and action/dystopian novel has to get a unnecessary love triangle thrown in simply so we can have Team Gale vs Team Peeta shirts made. A problem with realism, not really. A problem I have with the direction of YA and one I wanted to voice, yes.
Despite all of this, my suspension of disbelief kicks in every time I crack the cover of this book and I feel great about it each time I finish. I get that roller coaster feeling of not caring why you can turn in circles upside down, because your having so much fun with the experience you don’t care. The same is true with the roller coaster that is the Hunger Games, its an amazing thrill ride you will enjoy, and you wont care about the plot holes and lack of realism because the story is just so much fun. Its just my opinion, but I say everyone should try this book, give it a shot and you wont be disappointed.
Til next time,
Your Book Crook
Disagree with me? Think nothing mars the wonder of this book? Or maybe number whatever on the list is exactly what you thought. Or maybe you think my reviewing skills in general need a touch up. Leave me a comment down below and let me know what you think. And as always please share with your friends.