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Customer Review

87 of 99 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Battle Royale for the Twilight generation, 10 Sept. 2011
This review is from: The Hunger Games (Hardcover)
I ignored this book for a long time on the basis that I felt it sounded too similar to Battle Royale. However I have finally got round to reading it, and am glad I did -whilst there are plenty of flaws, this is a fast paced, thrilling, adventure story, which provides surprises and visceral entertainment.

Katniss and Peeta are the teenage 'tributes' chosen from District 12, the poorest district of a post-apocalyptic North American society. Their district specialises in mining - others concentrate on farming, machinery, etc - but Katniss is actually a skilled 'outdoorswoman' - following her father's death, she has had to make a living off the land. Peeta is a baker's son - but one with a showman's gift for oratory. They and 22 other teenagers - 2 from each district - are required to fight to the last survivor in a televised arena battle. And yes, the arena is pretty much that of Battle Royale, with death zones, individual weapons, teenage love, regular announcements of the slain, etc. Basically if you just imagine Ms. Collins got permission to tell a story in Takami's setting, you'll be able to enjoy the story far more.

So other than the ...um, 'borrowed' premise, what else is wrong with it? Wafer thin characterisation - most of the other tributes are cardboard cut outs- iffy moralising ('Katniss stabbed him in the face. Later she reflected, 'Oh God, what have I done, how could I kill another human. I hate the government.' Then she fired an arrow into the heart of Boy Two from District Nine'). I paraphrase, but the moral struggle is filler, not truth. And some lazy story-telling - on entering the arena, Peeta is able to form an alliance with other tributes, whom we have never seen him talk to, who we are told do not rate his abilities and who would have been able to easily dispatch him.

But there is plenty right with the book too - the prose is strong, the action relentless and believable, and Katniss' romantic dilemma is much better defined than her issues with killing people. The Rue scene - you'll know it when you read it - is pitch perfect and remains with you long after the book is closed.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Jan 2012 03:28:41 GMT
Yuki says:
"iffy moralising"

"the moral struggle is filler, not truth"

I've read a number of fairly recently written YA books that suffer from this problem. They're rarely convincing.

Posted on 11 Apr 2012 03:30:47 BDT
*COMMENT CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Great review. I feel like the progress of the hunger games was concieved first, then Katniss inserted afterwards. The biggest issue for me which is confusing me - why didn't Katniss shoot Foxface when she was dodging landmines - The food'd be destroyed, a tribute eliminated, the mines removed and her hand in the act covered as a tribute? They're there to kill and die, but despite this Suzanne Collins completely panders around the deep moral issue by making "bad" tributes (Cato and the assorted careers) - redshirt tributes (Unnamed bloodbath victims and various others who die to give a sense of game progress) and "good" tributes (Kat,Peeta,Thresh,Rue)

Kat never needs to personally kill the good ones, despite the fact there's no way around it she's just so damn lucky that they either survive or get killed by the bad tributes. Her life is spared by Thresh for no great reason and Collins was attempting to explore what would have actually happened to Katniss, she would have died in the games fairly early because of her "Iffy moralising".

It's not a great book, it's nowhere near as bad as twilight and it's fun enough to read. I feel it's pulling too many punches in terms of what they put her into. The characters you know will live just feel completely invulnerable despite the fact they are weaker than the Careers.
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