Book Review: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Let me start by saying, “Wow.” I will follow that up by saying, “Holy crap and just, wow again.” What an awesome book. I have not sat down to a novel that compelled me to finish it in less than a day for years. I just don’t read novels like that anymore. I read them for two hours here and three hours there during the week, spending other reading time on articles, marketing stuff, or various research content. Add in reading my own writing for revisions, and, well, I just don’t crank out a book a day like I used to.
But I did with this one. (Just look how long it’s been since I posted the last review—one day!)
Now, as always, I realize I am the last person to read the popular stuff, and yes, it’s hardly news that The Hunger Games is a monstrous success and hardly in need of my piddling review. Being the last one to read anything is a side effect of reading at a slow pace like I do; the popular books accumulate on my shelf, but don’t get burned through very fast. I’m even worse with movies. But, whatever. I finally read this one and, well, if you are like me and have had this one lying around on your list of “to read” books, DO IT.
This book is so brilliantly paced and so approachable, the story leaps right in and just takes off, and the writing is delightful (although it took me awhile to get used to the present tense). It’s a super light read, which certainly contributes to why I was able to get through it so fast, and, yes, it was written for teens. But that doesn’t change how enjoyable it was. Yes, there are a few places where it’s glaringly obvious it was intended for teenagers, and the kissy stuff in it is definitely PG-13 at best, in a sort of annoyingly sweet way (at least for me), but it doesn’t matter. The story is wonderful and interesting, so as an adult, you just have to accept the romance part of it for what it is (I imagine, in a stereotypical way, women will probably like even that more than a guy would). And whether you like that sort of thing or not, overall, it’s just a good damn story.
Speaking of the story, in case somehow you missed this and the movie living under a rock like I do, here a brief summary, as is obligatory in book reviews, even for already wildly popular books:
The book is about sort of post-global-collapse country called Panem, where society is broken up into 12 mostly impoverished districts ruled by one central governing body from the city of Capitol, which is populated by the elite. Every year, to serve political aims, a boy and a girl from each of the twelve districts are chosen by lottery to go to the capital and are entered into a death match game that is televised to the populace. The death match reminded me of basically a cross between gladiator fighting and the TV show Survivor. In fact, I would be surprised if Survivor isn’t where part of the idea sprung from. What follows is a completely compelling narrative of Katniss Everdeen and the boy Peeta Mallark, both from District 12, as they try to navigate not just the brutality of The Hunger Games—which is what the games are called—but also the politics. It’s a barbaric game of survival, and the rules state right at the start that, “Only one can win.” That means everyone else has to die.
It’s wonderful. Brilliant story telling. Absolutely riveting entertainment. I cannot recommend this book enough, even for crusty old people who only like “grown-up books.” A good story is a good story. Period. And if liking it makes me the mental equivalent of a 13-year-old girl, well, then I am the fattest, baldest, beardedest, most content 13-year-old-girl reader who ever clicked Amazon’s “BUY” button for the second book of a series. I will happily chew on my retainer as I giddily work through the second book, which I did just buy—on Kindle, no less, which I don’t really like reading on as much as I like dead-tree books, but, I ain’t waiting around for the mail.
And for whatever it’s worth, I’d like to toss out a great big THANK YOU to Suzanne Collins for writing the most fun book I’ve read in eons, not to mention the first book I can actually give a perfect “Epic Dragon” rating here on my book reviews page. The Hunger Games is awesome. Get it if you haven’t, and have yourself a genuine reading treat.