The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 / 5
Genre: YA dystopian
I didn’t want to read this book. I never planned to and was content with knowing nothing more about it than the basic premise. (I’ve never seen any of the movies either.) The main reason I stayed away is due to an aversion to heavy violence and death, and of course a book that involves a couple dozen teenagers being forced to kill each other is going to have plenty of that. I finally decided to read it after my son (who has seen the movies, but not read the books) tried to tell me that I might not be giving it a fair assessment, and of course, he was absolutely correct. And I did struggle still early on in the book, considering walking away because I was dreading what was to come. But I stuck it out, and boy, did I not expect to like it this much.
I appreciate the simple writing style—no pretension, no unnecessary words—and that made it easy for me to keep going when I didn’t want to face what was to come (yes, I am as much of a wimp as it sounds). And as the story unfolded, I realized I was empathizing with the tributes so much that my own pulse sped up in certain moments, during action or even just anticipating what was to come. And yet, in the end, I can say that the “violence for the sake of violence” that I anticipated from the book wasn’t there. Instead, we only see what Katniss sees, which is only what’s necessary to advance the plot or show her character.
The characterization and plot are a huge high point for me. Katniss’s attitude and motivation are consistent, and I really felt for Peeta throughout the book. Even the characters that it would be easy to hate end up being well-rounded and sympathetic. I wasn’t thrilled with the love triangle being set up, but at least it was a fairly minor aspect, as was the “romance” in general. While I can’t pretend to appreciate the world Collins has set up in this book, I do like that the book drew me in and made me want badly to see this system dismantled. I have unintentionally managed to avoid much in the way of spoilers for the rest of this series (or maybe I heard plenty of spoilers but just didn’t know what they meant at the time and don’t remember them now), so I am going forward with no idea what to expect, but with hopes for what I’d like to see firmly intact. All I can really say for recommendation, since I’m sure most people who are going to read this have already done so, is that if you’re like me and don’t want to read it because of reasons I mentioned, I suggest you reconsider.
Find out more about The Hunger Games
If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!