My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Hunger Games was my follow up after I had finished A Dance With Dragons. I needed something to fill the void and get me over my depression at having to wait several years for more G.R.R.Martin goodness. I mention this to put my state of mind into some context and what I’d wanted from this book.
It’s a good book to read. Suzanne Collins’ writing style is very easy to get into, she doesn’t dwell too much on describing places or other non-essential details. It keeps the reading light and the action focused.
The first third of the story is a bit slow none-the-less. We’re in a dystopian future somewhere in what used to be North America. Not much is revealed about what happened to result in the founding of this oppressive country of Panem. There is mention of wars against the Capitol, the city with all the power, and the defeat of the districts, which now are forced to participate in the Hunger Games to further humiliate them. This works well for the story, because it gives us enough to work our imagination with without going into so much detail as to distract from the here and now.
Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of this book is a brave and also smart teenager, and a very good protagonist. She’s human but also probably so very ‘good’ or respectable for her skills and her morality, that she makes for a good role-model for readers. She’s easy to like and to root for, but maybe lacks a bit some real flaws that could define her character further. For a young-adult novel, she is still a very good hero. She’s a resident of one of the districts, and lived a lot of her life in extreme poverty, and only survived and managed to live a reasonably good life because of her hunting skills, which is illegal, but because her district is the least respected or maybe feared from the Capitol, there isn’t as much oppressive security as to make it impossible for her to go hunting in the wilderness outside the district.
So for the first third, there is some establishing of the world to do and the characters. I found it started to really lose some steam when introducing the concept of the Hunger Games as well as the introduction of the Capitol. Once the hunger games do start though, the book picks up dramatically in suspense and becomes a real page turner. I read before I go to bed every night, and while it took me 3 days to get over the first third, the middle took me one night where I just kept on reading.
Towards the end, the book becomes a sort of romance, which is handled quite well, nothing as awkward as it COULD be for sure. I’m not one for sappy romances, and this didn’t delve into one, especially within the backdrop of this kill-or-die-trying scenario that she’s in.
The finale then picks up some steam again and the story then ends on a rather calm note. I had hoped for one final twist, but nothing of the sort happened.
Overall, I liked the book, which is why it gets 3 stars. It isn’t an amazing novel in the league of Ender’s Game, or other books I’ve read, and I think it’s telling that it served somewhat as a mere distraction from a bigger and grander story like A Song of Ice and Fire.
It is a small story, a good and suspenseful experience and can truly grip you throughout, but it also didn’t try to be anything more than it could be. It is just ‘right’, and I recommend it for anyone that seeks a good read, especially if you enjoy action filled novels.
There are more sequels of this book, and I have to wonder how Suzanne Collins went to further the plot, or are there completely separate characters fighting in the Hunger Games? I don’t know, and I’ll probably read them later.