Yet Another Hunger Games Book Review (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

Cover of "The Hunger Games"
Cover of The Hunger Games

Well, I finally broke down and read the first book in the Hunger Games series – the aptly titled The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I had downloaded the series on the Kindle when they offered a highly discounted version and figured with the movie out and all the discussion that I might as well read it.

And perhaps it was due to all the hype but quite frankly I was a little disappointed. Sure, it is in many ways an imaginative example of world building and setting the stage for some interesting characters and some powerful emotions.

And I don’t mean to say it wasn’t entertaining because it was and I enjoyed it. The story really kept you moving forward and you wanted to find out how all the dynamics would play out.

But from a literary perspective it just didn’t wow me. It was interesting and creative and entertaining but just wasn’t one of those books where you end thinking: “Wow, that was awesome.” Or one where you immediately want to jump into the next book. I am, however, pretty clearly an outlier on this one.

One explanation for this might be my heavy dislike for angst of a certain youthful kind. I hated it in the later Harry Potter books for example and I disliked it here. Granted, Katniss’s angst is not all that over-the-top but the whole “is the love interest between her and Peetra real or not?” aspect just grew sort of old for me.

In case you have been living in a cave or something here is the publishers blurb:

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel 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, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival

And as is the case with so many first in a series books, it seemed surprisingly shallow in terms of character depth and, to a lesser extent, plot. The simplicity of the prose allows Katniss to shine but, outside her relationship with Peetra and a little with Rue, it is a very interior story. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the series continues.  And it is of course, a young adult novel so I am not exactly the target audience.

This probably seems like nit-picking, and I am sure the hype surrounding the books and movie led to my disappointment, but for whatever reason this one fell a little flat for me.

But it was a quick and enjoyable read nonetheless; with an imaginative world and a fast paced plot.  I am sure I will read the rest of the series soon and hope to see the movie as well.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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