While I am putting this out as the first in a series of book reviews, in many ways it is more a reflection than a review. So in one sense I must apologise in advance if I segue from the matter at hand to my own writing.
There are many motivations for writing a review. Mostly people like a story and want to share what they like with others. My motivation is partially this, but also to reflect on what I liked in the writing and how I can use that to better my own writing.
So, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The movie is coming out and is touted as the “Franchise” for the next couple of years to replace Harry Potter and Twilight. I can certainly see why they would be saying that. The trailer looks good and after reading the first book I can see why it has caught many people’s attention.
The central thesis of the story is not entirely new. In a dystopian world a game is played in front of a TV audience where the contestants fight to the death to be the victor. Two others that spring to mind are both stories written by Stephen King under his Richard Bachman pseudonym; The Running Man and The Long Walk.
In The Hunger Games our central Character is Katniss Everdeen who along with Peeta are selected from their district to fight in the Hunger Games, the mechanism that the Capitol keeps control of their subject districts.
I thought the writing was in the most part very well done. I read the book quickly and was reluctant to put it down. There were a couple of jarring notes. The ease with which the children killed each other jarred a little for me. I am not sure the full impact was really felt. It is something to bear in mind about motivations and reactions.
That being said the scene where Rue is killed and Katniss’s response had me snivelling and getting strange looks from the kids. It was an emotionally strong scene, which is something I have difficulty writing. It is difficult to achieve that without it being forced.
I also found some of the flashbacks a bit disjointed. I was jolted out of the books at points where I suddenly realised I was in flashback without knowing it. I don’t use flashbacks much in my writing , but if I do that is something I must watch.
One thing that I did like, and which I try for in my own writing, is that the story could be self contained. At the end, while there are questions that need answering, and you want to know what happens next, you can still have a sense of completion. It has confirmed for me, that if I write a trilogy, I want each story in it to be complete in itself. I am beginning to dislike series where you have to read all three to get a sense of completion. I blame Robert Jordan for that.
I would give The Hunger Games a rating of four out of five. Which means for me I would re-read, I will read the others in the series, and I would buy if I saw it and it was a good deal. It is not a compulsory addition to my shelves.
2 thoughts on “The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: A Reflection”
So while I loved this book and loved this series I have to say I disagree on one point. I didn’t feel that the story was self contained. Yes the Hunger Games were reolved, but the emotional story between Katniss and Peeta wasn’t, nor was the political effect of the Hunger Games addressed. In fact both were left as glaring hooks to move into the next novel.
On the one hand this is great, you want to read the next immediately, but on the other I felt it was a let down. Essentially the problem that was posed at the beginning of the novel was not resolved, only the survival (or not) of Katness was resolved. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the film.
Still it was a thoroughly engrossing book and series and I would definitely read it again.
Yes those two plot points were left as hooks for the novel. I just felt there was enough resolution of the major plot (surviving the Games) that if I never read the second or third I wouldn’t miss anything. That probably says the Katniss/Peeta plot arch and the political arch didn’t engage me…