What more can be said about a book that has close to 100,000 reviews on Goodreads?
Over 900,000 readers have rated The Hunger Games an average of 4.5 stars. They say that 5 star reviews are from the author’s friends and family in which case Suzanne Collins must have a lot of friends or a very large family. But the ratings are high for good reason: the story of an apocalyptic future in which teenagers are selected through a national lottery to battle others to the death is believable and compelling.
The first act of the book is the strongest, with characters who have depth and are very well nuanced as they navigate their daily lives to forage, hunt and trade for food in a police state that is the America of the future. It’s here that we are introduced to Katniss Everdeen of District 12 (‘The Seam’), the coal producing region. The irony of her being ‘chosen’ to play in the Hunger Games is a good twist in a book full of twists. Peeta, her male counterpart who works in his father’s bakery, is a nice kid when you get right down to it and has always had a soft spot for Katniss. Or does he? Remember—only one can survive the Hunger Games.
The theme of how one communicates and carries oneself in a world where no one can really trust another and love is manufactured is very well done and possibly one of the reasons this book appeals as it does to young adults. I found the relationship between Katniss and Peeta dynamic, full of tension and tenderness.
The book is not without its faults however. The second act, dealing with the games themselves—the heart of the story—is often told through long narrative passages in which the pace tends to sag. Many key events are taken off camera and the reader has to work at remembering the many contestants who were briefly introduced. At times the action writing tends toward the generic and lacks the wonderful detail seen in the first act. This is a surprise when you consider that this is primarily an action story. But wait, there is another twist. Just as we think we know how it’s going to end we are turned around.
All in all, this is a very satisfying book that sets the standard in a crowded genre. The Hunger Games won’t disappoint readers of any age.
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Did you like Hunger Games? You might like my YA Thriller: LETHAL DISPATCH.