Customer Review

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promising, but doesn't deliver, 26 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Hunger Games (Paperback)
By now you probably already know what the premise is, so I won't bother you with that. The idea is not very original, of course. The Tournament, Battle Royale, The Running Man, etc. come to mind when I read the premise and some of the book even reminded me of Lord Of The Flies. It's something to ponder, especially when some of the works mentioned are so much better.

Okay, I'll devide my review in two sections:

- Finally a female main character who can actually take care of herself. A lot of YA books have the main character be a useless clutz who waits to be saved by her love interest, while at the same time doing stupid things that gets her into trouble. Katniss is nothing like that. She's a skilled hunter, takes initiative and is knowledgable.
- I liked the contrast between her and those in the capitol. Her views on poverty clashing with their superficial lives, lives which many western people live today.
- The tactical choices. It's like watching Bear Grylls, except she's not eating maggots ;-) Katniss doesn't just stumble around in the arena, she makes many smart choices and it's briefly explained why she makes them.

- My main problem with the book was the our heroine. While it was refreshing to read about such an independent person, Katniss is so dense at times it's painful to read because we can all see clearly what she cannot. Collins' is not very subtle in her writing and this harms the biggest angle in the story. She doesn't foreshadow, she basically shoves it in your face with an exclamation point attached to it. This gets very annoying very quickly because Katniss keeps making up flimsy excuses and keeps believing in them in order to keep the plot device going. The character isn't consistent either. She goes from smart and thoughtful to dense and emotional in a heartbeat and back. It makes it hard to emphasize you never really get a feel for who she really is.

- Second problem: the writing itself. Now, it wasn't actrocious, I actually liked a few descriptions, like for example how her face disappeared behind a layer of powder and then was drawn back on again. But on the whole Collins didn't have the skill to paint a clear picture. Sure, she gives main descriptions, but there's a lot of telling going on, not showing. The story and it's characters didn't really come alive. This is very unfortunate, because the characters are in a life and death situation and you're supposed to care for them, be terrified for them, cry with them. I felt rather indifferent towards a lot of it.

- Supporting characters. Again, basic descriptions. There are specks of detail and personality, but not enough to give the impression of a well rounded character. I also would have liked it if the author had spent more time on the other characters in the arena. I get that Katniss' POV allows only for a limited scope, but I think a lot of this could have been remedied with more elaborate descriptions. I think the book would have been stronger if we got to see her adversaries as other human beings, not just obstacles she needed to overcome. The whole thing seemed rather soulless despite Katniss going through an array of emotions.

- The situation isn't used to it's full potential. The deaths aren't glossed over, I'll give Collin's that, but Katniss is never really presented with a difficult choice emotional wise. Her morals stay intact.
- The ending. Now, I'm not all for hollywood happy endings, but this one was the product of a poor plot device and just didn't really work in my opinion.

So my conclusion? A book that could have been good or even great, but simply wasn't.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Mar 2012 23:29:33 BDT
J. Lindeboom says:
I really agree with this. I wanted to love this book, I really did, but it just didn't deliver for me. A lot of that has to do with the quality of writing. I do foresee a lot of thumbs down from fans though...

Posted on 8 Apr 2012 19:29:22 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 Apr 2012 19:29:45 BDT
Q.P says:
I too agree, the storyline had so much potential, but I don't think Collins was smart enough about it. She never really lay a premise on the whole situation and the whole Dark ages stuff was pretty vague. Compared to J.K Rowling, I don't think Collins really thought of the whole picture and how the series could had expanded.

I watched the movie before reading this, expecting the book would be better but it wasn't. After I read the book, I thought the Script writers and director did wonders to it. Simple because they didn't have much to go on. For something that is set in the future the descriptions of the settings are near to none. Collins didn't even described how the 'peakmakers' looked or what they wore, When I think peacemake I think white robe, but no description.

I really wish the book was thought out better, it could have been so much better

Posted on 14 May 2012 11:37:32 BDT
Robert Clark says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 14 May 2012 12:05:47 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 May 2012 12:09:09 BDT
Elin says:
Thank you Robert. That was a typo I missed before clicking on "submit". I just noticed another one: "it's characters" should be "its characters". I will do better next time. But as English is not my native language, it's always nice to be corrected. :)

Posted on 4 May 2013 23:39:12 BDT
J. Gaudion says:
This review is spot on and does a good job of explaining all the problems I felt when reading this book. I enjoyed reading it, but found the characters a bit too one dimensional to be believable. You are repeatedly told something without ever being shown an example. The biggest example of this for me was the "hunger" aspect, where so much space was devoted to describing food and saying that people are hungry but never felt convincing. Katniss actually seems to eat quite a lot.

Posted on 9 May 2013 19:52:38 BDT
Yep. I agree with a lot of what you say. (By the way-did you mean empathise rather than emphasise?). I found the story really gripping at first, but then I lost the plot a little, & became less interested in reading on and skipped. I have not read Battle Royale which a lot of reviewers say was the original 'games' where teens fight to the death. If there was plagiarism then Suzanne Collins would have been sued. Unfortunately there is no copyright on ideas. Really all you need is a leap of the imagination - the good if shocking idea of having teens fighting to the death, to have a female lead, an understanding of some of the big issues of the 21st century-climate change for example that destroyed North America and left Panemo in its wake, a knowledge of dictatorships in history and the Games of the Colisseum in Ancient Rome. My boredom began from the point of Katniss entering the arena in her flame cloak. I found Suzanne Collins writing jogged along perfectly well for the first 50 or so pages. It then seemed she got bored with her own writing. The telling rather than showing began to grate. A lazy book.
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