Is it worth the hype? In so much as anything is, yes. It's interesting to watch media trends and wonder just how many people realise what a huge effect the media have on our lives and our taste. Twilight was huge for a while, so we had that whole vampire resurgence, but you only have to go back a few years to see that it was just a repeat of the Anne Rice media train, and Bram Stoker before that. Eventually the market gets over-saturated with vampires, werewolves and the like, so they have to find a new angle, something different that will appeal to the masses. Bring on The Hunger Games - a futuristic dystopia where teenagers fight to the death in an arena. It's like a tailor-made antidote to the intense romance of Twilight - or is it?
I was surprised to come across a strong romantic storyline - I should have known that a trilogy this successful would hang on a love story, but I didn't expect it to be such a large part of the book. I was rather expecting more gore and suffering to be honest. It's certainly not the first time we've been drawn in by the grimy realism of a future where there isn't enough food to go around, where kids will fight over a loaf of bread and think nothing of killing each other. I couldn't help but think of the Japanese film Battle Royale (based on the book of the same name) as I read The Hunger Games, but I guess as in the art world there are no new ideas, only new interpretations of a theme. Whether it's because of being aimed at a slightly younger audience, or just the whim of Suzanne Collins, the gore is kept to a minimum and the general suffering takes a backseat to our heroine Katniss Everdeen's personal experience. This is no bad thing though - if I wanted to read about gruesome murders and a disgusting account of living in the wild I wouldn't have gone to the YA fiction section.
I found the book very easy to read - it's probably aimed at age fourteen or so, and the writing style is of the first person/present tense type that makes it very addictive. With a plot that shoots along consistently at a hundred miles per hour, it's impossible not to get sucked into Katniss' world. It's a world that's hard to live in, tatty around the edges but with a few fluffy moments still. It's a very good interpretation of a sixteen year-old girl and how she thinks as she goes through this extraordinary experience. Okay, so it glosses over a lot of filth and has the odd improbable moment, but that's what artistic licence is for right? It's also another facet of Katniss' character - this strong young woman isn't one to let the bad things get her down, she just won't think about them and they won't seem as bad.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Games were over by the end of the book - I knew it was part of a trilogy and was worried for a while that I might have to buy the other two to finish the story. Collins has done well though - The Hunger Games stands alone well as a story in its own right, while at the same time leaving things nicely open should you wish to continue reading about Katniss. You know what? I think I just might - bring on Catching Fire!
Already read it? Check out my review of Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
Buy The Hunger Games on Amazon.
Buy The Hunger Games on Amazon.
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