Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Group Review - The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games - Library EditionSummary:  Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place. 

Alice's Review: I have been on a kick of sorts for Young Adult novels lately. I remember reading all the hoopla when Mockingjay was released a few months back and during a recent trip to my neighborhood Walmart, I picked up Hunger Games in paperback. It was mostly on a whim and I am glad I did. Even with all the press, I wasn’t familiar at all with what the series is about. I’m not a big fan of futuristic novels and I’m really glad I was able to ignore my literary prejudices and read this book. This is by far one of the best books I read this year. It reminds me of one of my favorite books growing up, The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson. I think it is so important to empower the younger generation, especially young women with characters they can look up to. Katniss Everdeen is that character.

I believe I enjoyed this novel so much because I am a fan of Ayn Rand. It’s not so much as agreeing with her philosophies as with her way of expressing them. This novel could have been written by her. I love the idea of a government without morals or cares for the people in its kingdom. I love how Katniss, a virtual no one from the lowliest district was able to give the game masters a run for their money. I love the fierce loyalty Katniss feels for her people in District 12, how she would do anything to protect her sister Prim even signing up for a certain death by taking her place in the Games.

This novel is fast paced, well written, humorous, violent, and heartbreaking. I could not put it down and when I had to stop reading, I kept thinking about it. I was glad a government like that exists only in the mind of the author and not in real life. Even with this being the first in a trilogy, I was pleased with the solid ending. There was definite resolution while successively fueling my anticipation for what comes next in District 12.

Final Take: 4/5

Jenn's Review:  All of my bibliophilic friends in the blogosphere told me I had to read Hunger Games.  There's a reason I don't read contemporary fiction.  I think there's enough ugliness and drama in the world.  I don't want to read about it too.  So, even though I'm not a fan of Dystopian themes, I picked it up.  I'm still not sure what all the fuss is about.

I found the premise appalling.  I know, I know, that's the whole point of Dystopian themes, the shock value.  Still, reading it made me feel uncomfortable (again, I know that's the point), but it made it hard for me to engage with the book. So it's not my genre.  Even if I couldn't appreciate the theme, I strove to appreciate it other ways.

However, the plot was rather predictable.  I knew how it was going to end (and not because I was spoiled), it was just a matter of how Suzanne Collins would take the reader from point A to point B. For me, it was straight forward and without surprises.  It was the love story, or pseudo-love story, that finally made the read accessible to me.  Once I found a likable, character, and for me it wasn't Katniss, it did become a somewhat compelling read.  (Although, I think it was more of an 'I want to keep reading so I can be done with it,' than an 'I want to keep reading.') I didn't find Katniss to be a remarkable female character.  Yes, she volunteered to die in place of her sister, but in the end, it was her hunting skills and her comprehension of game theory that saved the day ...and she listened to her advisor.

It was well written. Though some of the negative reviews I've seen cast aspersions on Collins' writing style, I don't agree with any of them.  I don't fault the writing, I just don't appreciate the plot.

While I will continue to press on in the series, I don't think I'm the target audience.  If I want to read about atrocities, I'll read the non-fiction accounts, not waste my imagination on more horrifying ones.

Final Take: 3.5/5.0



Jenn December 7, 2010 at 7:27 AM  

My hubby is a huge Ayn Rand fan. I'll have to give it to him to see if he likes it any better. :)

Audra December 7, 2010 at 2:56 PM  

Ooh, very provoking! I have HG at home but haven't started and now I'm torn! I hate Rand but love dystopias! I kind of suspect I'll dislike Katniss but I'm a sucker for love stories.

Alice, have you read Old School by Tom Wolff? It's a biographical novel about Wolff's experience going to this posh boy's school in the '60s and '70s but what made me think you might like it is that Rand the author appears as a character who comes to lecture at the school. It's one of three scenes that stick in my mind from when I read it about three or four years ago!

Alice December 8, 2010 at 9:23 AM  

I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion.

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