Book review: Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games”

I don’t know what happened, but I only got to read “The Hunger Games” over the weekend.

And it’s not like the “Barsoom” books either, whose existence I only discovered when shirtless Taylor Kitsch started popping up on cinema screens. I already had a copy of “The Hunger Games” even before “Catching Fire” came out, and was around for the whole hoopla around the release of “Mockingjay”.

But for some reason that eludes me until now, these three books never floated to the top of my to-be-read pile. If it weren’t for the imminent release of the film next week, the books would have probably been pushed further and further down the pile.

And now that it’s been buoyed up the pile, it has to contend with the huge buzz that preceded it. I’m not kidding when I say that I expected a lot from this book going in. Will it live up to the hype, or will I just have to cut off al the friends who insisted to me that this was a really great book?

Spoilers!

The biggest problem I had going into the book was the sheer amount of information about it that I already knew before I even got to the first page. I already knew that Rue was going to die. I already knew of the whole Teem Peeta-Team Gale thing. And I already knew that somebody important (yes, I know who it is, but I don’t want to spoil it for everyone) was going to die in “Mockingjay”.

And while I don’t really mind getting spoiled, I do have to admit that it certainly robs some of the scenes in “The Hunger Games” of the tension and excitement that readers who had no prior knowledge about anything regarding the books probably experienced when they first read it. It’s hard to feel anything for the brewing love triangle in this book, for instance, when I already know what the endgame is.

It also worked to a disadvantage with regards to my assessment of the book. Suzanne Collins isn’t exactly subtle with the foreshadowing, but I had a tough time discerning whether it was just her being obvious or the added knowledge in my head coming to play. I can’t blame her for something that clearly isn’t her fault.

Having said that, there were still a lot of things that I liked in the book and which really surprised me. The violence, for one thing, was a surprise. Not that I like seeing kids getting killed, but it was refreshing for Collins to pull no punches when it comes to the brutality. The reveal of what happens to the defeated tributes is probably one of the best and creepiest things about the book.

And even though I already know that Peeniss (Peeta-Katniss) is endgame, that still didn’t stop me from being a sap over the cave scene and the final scene at the end of the book. And I also loved the fact that unlike some other YA heroines on the shelves today, Katniss’ world definitely does not revolve either Peeta or Gale. If anything, the two boys just found themselves sucked into her orbit.

Which leads me to the thing that bugged me the most about “The Hunger Games” — the way it’s been marketed. One other thing that I remember about the whole “Hunger Games” hoopla was the whole Teem Peeta-Team Gale thing, and while I didn’t really mind it at first — seems to be de rigeur for YA these days — it began to piss me off once I started reading the book.

It’s clear from the get go that Katniss can take care of herself. That as much as Gale helps her out with the foraging, she can still do it on her own. And we all know that Katniss basically held her own — heck, more than that — during the Hunger Games. We have a female character who is not solely defined by her relationship with a boy. THAT IS A GOOD THING. But rather than work from there…you go and reduce this to a fucking love triangle.

Maybe that’s the way things turn out in “Catching Fire” — it’s the book in the trilogy where I’m least spoiled — and maybe I’ll be proven wrong. But going just from “The Hunger Games”, it fucking offends me that a female character has to once again be reduced to a love interest for two men. WHO BOTH PLAY SECOND FIDDLE TO KATNISS ANYWAY. UGH. /rant over

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I have to say that I immediately wanted to read “Catching Fire” after the end of “The Hunger Games”, and if it weren’t for the fact that I need to finish reading five (!!!!) other books before the month ends i probably would have. So I guess it’s safe to say that “The Hunger Games” has not disappointed me at all.

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6 thoughts on “Book review: Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games””

  1. Lionsgate might change their marketing strategy for the second and third movies. Or not. Especially considering how Twilight is on the way out and they’re probably banking on this being its replacement.

    1. I just do not approve of this whole Team Peeta-Team Gale strategy. I do not. Although if made to choose I will probably be Team Peeniss. At least on the basis of the first book.

  2. That’s my pet peeve also with the movie’s marketing — a love triangle is being pushed when it is almost, if not completely, non-existent. The source material is strong as it is; why skew it in that manner? *shrug*

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