Book review: The Hunger Games

With The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins set to hit the silver screens this spring, I got my hands on the book, having heard numerous raving reviews and fan pages dedicated to it.

It was overall an entertaining read that I ravenously devoured in less than two days but I admit that I was not blown away by it, largely because I have never been a huge fan of young adult fiction.

Being the first of the trilogy, The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian society, akin to George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, in a post-apocalyptic world called Panem where North America once existed.

The highlight of each year in Panem would be the Hunger Games, a savage competition where 24 teenagers from 12 districts, which are state-like areas drawn up, are thrown into an arena to battle one another until a sole survivor remains.

The entire man-eats-man death tournament is also broadcasted live on television not only as a form of rich-man entertainment but also aims to send out a strong anti-rebellion message to the poor.

Such a tournament reminds me of pit bull fighting, where humans would breed dogs only to watch them fight to their death, all in the name of sheer entertainment and sporting fun.

Tributes for this competition, a boy and a girl from each district, are selected entirely on a lottery basis.

It was during this annual selection ceremony lead character Katniss Everdeen volunteered to take the place of her sister Primrose, who was randomly selected as a tribute from their poor mining district.

She was then whisked to the Capitol, at the heart of Panem’s dictatorship, to participate in the tournament and also witness the economic and society imbalances of her society.

“What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button?” Everdeen thought to herself. “What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment.”

The image of Everdeen is one of a rebel at heart, representing an outspoken force against repression by the authorities. She is seen as smart, steely and determined young woman who would risk her life to protect her loved ones.

This certainly is a refreshing change to the typical feminine figures portrayed in Young Adult fiction – beautiful, dreamy and fragile, who inevitably fall head over heels with the male protagonist.
Not to forget, the plot also includes an emotional tussle involving Everdeen’s budding, albeit aloof relationship with fellow district-12 boy tribute Peeta Mellark and her best friend Gale Hawthorne.

Yet this love triangle is only briefly touched upon in the first installment, allowing the action to take centre stage, and only further explored in the next two books.

As much as I am attracted to a dystopic view of the future, I am not too sure if I would finish up the rest of the trilogy. Three young adult literature in a row is a tad hard to swallow given my low threshold for this genre of books.

Ending off with the trailer to the upcoming The Hunger Games movie

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10 thoughts on “Book review: The Hunger Games

  1. Interesting review! I haven’t read the books but took an interest when my Facebook blew up with young adult female friends (OMG HUNGER GAMES BOOKS NOW MOVIE WOO!). I can’t say I’m overly interested after your review though; is it an intriguing concept that falls flat on execution? Perhaps another book soon-to-be-movie in “Ender’s Game” could be reviewed? Always loved reading that book as a teen, but don’t remember whether it’s a children’s book or young adult book. I always wanted to believe it was a teen/young adult book with semi-transcendent themes 🙂

    1. Sorry that I made you think otherwise about the Hunger Games trilogy! It’s not entirely a bad book but if you’re not a fan of Twilight, then this book’s going to be hard for you to swallow.

      Thanks for recommending “Ender’s Game” because science fiction books has never been high on my reading list. Will definitely try reading it and hope to do a review soon (:

  2. Someone alight says that hunger can be one cure for eager. For me, it’s unnecessary. I saw too many images that people what I care is too starving to express what they really want. It’s the timing that people who desired to complete their hope and fulfill their needs. And enjoy for their lives neither be a slave for what they don’t want.

  3. I liked The Hunger Games almost as much as you did, but the ‘romance’ element fell flat for me. It seemed under-developed and when Suzanne Collins tried to force it, it got a lot worse. But maybe that’s just me. Anyway, great review!

  4. I, like you read the Hunger Games due to it’s popularity and the increasingly referrals from my friends. While I find the first book to be entertaining and something that today’s youth can relate to, overall the series is ok. I am looking forward to the movie, but from the trailers I have seen, I know there is some serious plot changing.

    1. My gut feeling is that the movie will further play up the love triangle, as all young adult movies usually would be, and downplay the actual games. Glad that we share similar sentiments, that it is an ok but not particularly fantastic series, about the books and thanks for stopping by!

  5. I appreciate this review! I am also rarely interested in young adult fiction, and have really had no intereset in the “latest and greatest” of the past few years. But perhaps because of a little movie stir and thoughts it had “Brave New World” tones, I had wondered. You provide a really good review! I may do as you are considering and give the first volume a try. I can take it from there! Keep reviewing…love it! Debra

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