young adult book review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games is the first book in a dystopian young adult trilogy. The setting is Panem, a country of 12 districts in what was once the United States. To remind its citizens of their power, the Capitol hosts the Hunger Games each year. Through a lottery, one boy and one girl from each district are selected to fight it out until one only person survives.
The Hunger Games is intense and harrowing from the opening pages. The story is told from the perspective of Kitniss, a 16-year-old girl who had taken on the responsibility of hunting to feed her family after her father died. Kitniss is simultaneously vulnerable and strong, and I really liked her.
I read The Hunger Games during the readathon, and it was perfect for the occasion. I could not put it down. When I did finish it, however, I had to give pause. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, it lacked the depth and message to truly make it a great book. I also found the romantic love triangle storyline annoying; it came out of nowhere. It wasn't timely, and it seemed out of character for Kitniss. Mostly, it bothered me because it was incomplete. The love triangle storyline wasn't fully engaged, and it's clear Collins used the storyline to set the stage for the next book. I love trilogies and series, but I like each book to stand alone if they're released alone. Harry Potter is the perfect example: it was planned to be a seven-book series, and the books build on one another, but each volume is clearly its own story.
The Hunger Games is a wonderful, engaging story, but it pales in comparison to my favorite dystopian novel, The Giver by Lois Lowry. The Hunger Games is definitely worth reading, but I'm not sure it's destined to be a classic. I also fully admit to having high expectations, both from hearing other book bloggers rave about this book and my own enjoyment throughout the book. Sometimes books are so engaging and enthralling, they can't even live up to their own projections. Until the last fifty pages, I was sure I would rate this book five stars, but once I put it down, it didn't quite live up to its own promise of greatness. I am eager to read Catching Fire, the second book in the trilogy. The movie rights for the book have already been purchased, and I think it will translate very well to the screen. I'm curious to see if the movie is shaped as a trilogy as well.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Publication date: September 14, 2008
Source: my local public library