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The first book in The Hunger Games trilogy was published in 2008 and received immediate acclaim, from both young readers and the industry itself. It was awarded top spots in The New York Times and USA Today’s bestsellers lists.
However it remained largely unknown until the feature film was released in 2012, rocketing it back onto the best-sellers lists. To be clear, this is not a review of the film (which I highly recommend) or an overview of the trilogy, merely a write up on the first book of the same name.
I had heard nothing of the books until I saw the trailers for the film. As soon as I did, I rushed down to the bookstore–I refuse to convert to the cheaper, more convenient but debatably soul-less eBooks. Book bought, I settled myself in for some good old social commentary.
Boy was I disappointed. In a nutshell, Katniss Everdeen lives in a dystopian, voyeuristic society where the top dogs force 24 children (two from each ‘district’ or county) to fight each other to the death. This fight is televised across the nation and the citizens from The Capitol are encouraged to bet on players and get involved in the game.
This novel sets some fairly harsh magnifiers onto our current obsession with reality television, as well as our growing desensitisation to violence and cruelty. I truly loved the concept and world that Collins created.
What drags this book down is not its construction but its execution. The characters quickly become two-dimensional and mouth pieces for the plot.
The ‘romance’ set-up is heavy handed and unnatural, while the teenage angst is so contrived it sets your teeth on edge.
Yes, I admit this novel is created for teens and looking at what else is on offer in this department (Twilight anyone?) The Hunger Games is fairly instep with its target audience. However, this shouldn’t be an excuse for lazy writing and undeveloped, unintelligent characters.
Collins had a wonderful opportunity to introduce some adult, thought provoking concepts and encourage discussion and debate. Instead, The Hunger Games left me feeling slightly insulted and needing to read a dictionary.