In the history of this blog, this might be the most topical review I’ve ever done. Consider this, the other books I’m reading right now are the Harry Potter series. Yes, nearly fifteen years after the first book in its series released. So I go against the flow. Except The Hunger Games, I suppose. It was refreshing to read a book that’s currently being talked about. Reviews of the movie, which released last weekend, are positive, making the experience of reading the book much more exciting.
Games is a young adult fiction novel, and the fact that I forgot it was one, is a good thing for me, an adult. (Not so sure about the young ‘uns who’re supposed to be reading it.) The relatively small size of the book, and the quick pace won big points for me. Because really, the writing is nothing to write home about (ahem). Collins, like many popular writers today, is better at imagining than writing. (But her imagination is being questioned as well.) But let’s keep the average writing and controversies aside for the moment.
The loveable heroine of Games is Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen year old girl who is forced to become the hunter for her family after her father dies. The world she lives in is facing a food shortage, and the country, Panem, is ruled by the Capitol that’s trying to keep its districts under its thumb. As an extension of this, the Capitol has the annual Hunger Games, where two representatives from each of its twelve districts fight to the death. The lone survivor wins an annual supply of food for his or her district. When Katniss hears her young sister’s name being pulled out for the representation of their district, she nominates herself to replace her sister. There begins Katniss’s journey into fame and adulthood.
While others may not call Katniss loveable, I think the writer does an excellent job of making her real. Katniss, is as usual beautiful and striking (but really, as far as leading ladies of fiction go, who isn’t?), but at the same time, she’s also mouthy, moody, and unsure of herself. She makes mistakes and regrets them. She is human. But an even better character that really confuses and intrigues you is Katniss’s fellow representative, Peeta Mellark. Collins, for a majority of the novel, keeps us guessing about Peeta’s intentions, which propels the novel. Some of the minor characters like Flickerman, Cinna, and Rue are also nicely created.
The beginning is a little rough. Collins doesn’t explain the premises right away. The reader has to piece is together clumsily. What’s a reaping? What’s the Seam? What’s District Twelve? What are Tributes? It’s a little confusing and exasperating. But when the pieces fall in place, it’s works out rather well. There are books that stun you with their eloquence and lyricism. Then there are books, like Games, which simply keep bringing you back to them out of sheer curiosity. Sometimes, that’s all that matters.