Tuesday 6 March 2012

The Hunger Games

I'm not sure that the blogosphere, the internet, or the world really needs another gushing review of The Hunger Games. But here it is anyway. I put off reading this book. Too popular. Too much hype. Then the movie was coming out soon (released in Australia late March 2012). I knew that I'd have to read it. And I'm glad that I finally did.

You must know the basic premise by now. Set in the remnants of what was America, Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her younger sisters place at the annual Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a bizarre reality tv style battle, compulsory viewing for all residents of Panem, where 24 young contestants battle to the death. There is a rich capital, and 12 Districts of variable fortune. Katniss lives a marginal existence in one of the poorer districts, District 12- a coal mining area in the old Appalachian Mountains. Katniss's father has died in a coal mining accident, and she has learnt to hunt and gather outside the perimeter to provide meals for her mother and sister Primrose. These hunting and survival skills will come in very handy in the vast outdoor arena set up for The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins has said that she found her original inspiration for these stories whilst channel surfing and flicked between reality tv and the war in Iraq.

Katniss is an odd name for our heroine. We find out that Katniss is named after an aquatic plant with edible tubers. There are many articles out there about people possibly naming their children Katniss, but I couldn't find one that actually did. Someone will. I'm sure.

Picture credit

The plot is compelling. Chapters end at tantalising cliff-hangers, that make you want to read "just one more chapter". I charged through it in just a couple of days. I was hooked right from the first paragraph.
When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course she did. This is the day of the reaping. 

Occasionally we all need to read a book like this. You do need to suspend some belief, but most books need that at some level. Yes, some of it is predictable, and you can feel yourself being manipulated much the same way as the tributes are within the arena, but it's still a great pageturner of a tale and so I will be seeing the movie, and reading the next book Catching Fire (see my review).


Satia said...

I was fortunate because I received the ARC so read it and fell in love before the hype. I doubt even knowing the movie was coming out would have compelled me to read the book because there have been other over-hyped books made into movies that I haven't seen and wish I hadn't read.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Being a lover of books, I always read before seeing the movie and try to read before a movie is hyped (Hugo Cabret). I just picked up this book last week as a 10yr old boy was considering. We looked up a few of the book reviews and he decided that he would not read for the moment. It was not the reading level but the plot that caused him pause. Your thoughts?


Louise said...

Satia- it would have been nice to read it back then, before you knew that there were another two books with the same main character, that takes a little of the suspense out of it right there....

Genie- I do think this would be a bit much for the average 10 year old. My son is 11 and I'm not offering it to him at the moment. I think in the next year or so would be good for him. If he really wants to read it I won't stop him, but I do think he's a bit young for it yet. It is quite violent and gory. There's a little bit of gentle boyfriend/girlfriend stuff, but that wouldn't cause any problem I don't think.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

There's often at least a seed of something good when you get a lot of hype. Unless the people doing the hype-ing are a bunch of absolute idiots.

Sim Carter said...

First timer here. And I will follow you.
I found my way via Kathy's Wondrous Words.
Louise your review about The Hunger Games fit my feelings to a T! I resisted and resisted but because my blog is about movies based on books I finally had to read it. And am so glad I did. A fast and furious read, and I agree with your opinion - it's a bit too gory for pre-teens!