14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A totally gripping start to a genre defining trilogy,
This review is from: The Hunger Games (Paperback)
Like many of the recent reviewers here I came to The Hunger Games Trilogy relatively late after being badgered by friends who had already read the trilogy. At first I was resistant given I had never before read any Young Adults literature and the friends who were telling me to read the series were adults who read Twilight books, so their opinions could hardly be trusted. However, as with most readers of the series I devoured the books in fairly short order once I started them.
I am a particular fan of dystopian and alternate-universe fiction and the Hunger Games series effectively communicates many of the themes found in the famous dystopian novels of Huxley, Orwell and Bradbury et al to a young adult audience who may be encountering these ideas for the first time. While some professional critics have criticised the books for merely re-treading ideas that have been more thoroughly addressed in these classic adult novels, there is enough in this trilogy to be worthwhile reading even for those who are familiar with the classics.
Collins particular strengths are plotting and pacing of the novels; the pacing is incredibly tight allowing the reader to spend enough time in the world of Panem to feel emerged in the universe, but the books are not so long as to seem repetitive or for the exhilarating speed of the novels to be slowed. One of the excellent additions that Collins makes is the focus how the Hunger Games are a reality TV show and the tributes are styled and given media training as part of their preparation. While this might seem frivolous and at first jars with the horrifying to-the-death battles the children are about to engage in, it is an excellent, almost over the top satire of the cynicism, manipulation and shallowness that exists in current reality television and the celebrities it produces.
Katniss, the trilogy's heroine and narrator, is wonderfully complex, a girl forced to grow up before her time and take care of her family, making her hard an unforgiving in some ways while also intensely loyal and loving to those who make it in to her inner circle. The characterisation of Katniss is excellent, depicting her as often unlikeable but always realistic in her reactions to events around her. My only criticism of the writing of Katniss is how very brave and resilient she is depicted as being, which leaves little room for her to growth over the course of the series. However she is such a captivating character that I am willing to over-look this, particularly in view of the dearth of strong female characters presented to teenage audiences.
While the book is certainly gory and frequently depressing it is aimed at teenagers who are starting to become aware of some of the injustices of the world through the news and through their history lessons. Through the eyes of the young heroine of the novel they are given the opportunity to view an unjust, if incredibly extreme, world and better appreciate the freedom and opportunity available to them.
I have both read the book and listened to the audio book of The Hunger Games and would strongly recommend either to anyone, young or old, who has an interest in emersive dystopian fiction.