Book review: The Hunger Games

I watch a lot of movies and read a lot of books.

Therefore, I’d like to think that very little surprises me.  That said, I try to keep a pretty open mind, so when I open a new book or walk into a cinema, I’m likely to be more forgiving than other folk if a plotline seems ‘tired’ or ‘done before’.

So as I walked out of the movies after having watched The Hunger Games, my reaction was different to my accomplices.

They were critically analysing it from head to toe.  I, on the other hand, was enthralled.  So I immediately went home, got really sick, and read the book.

I think the reason for this is that I let myself get a bit more immersed in the movie/reading experience.  While my two cinema-going mates watched the film in a detached manner (always thinking about, from a writers’ perspective, what would flow naturally in the plotline), I tried to put myself in the protagonist’s shoes and try and become part of the movie.

I did the same thing with the book.

So, in The Hunger Games, when the hero (Katniss) was under attack, or her friend (Peeta) was struggling to survive, I was enthralled, gripped, and a bunch of other adjectives. My friends though were sitting back and quietly laughing under their breath as a somewhat ‘predictable’ plot element again surfaced.

And that’s how I felt after having read The Hunger Games.  It turned out, more or less, how I expected (hardly surprising since I'd already seen the movie!  But you get my point), yet I couldn’t put it down.

Every page seemed to have an unnatural pull on my fingers as I went from one chapter to the next.

Essentially, the plot takes place in a post-apocalyptic North America, where the almighty Capitol is surrounded by 12 districts which operate under a veiled form of slavery.

Once a year, two representatives from each district are selected to fight to the death against the rest of the districts in a tournament called The Hunger Games as a tribute to the Capitol.

The fact that I can sum up basically everything that happens in the entire 454 page book in two short paragraphs doesn’t, however, do justice to it.

The author draws on science fiction, westerns, romantic comedies, dramas, action, thrillers and teen-fiction to communicate a fantastic read.  It also, however, explores something much deeper.

The personal journey of Katniss as an overall unwilling participant in the Games is fascinating.  As she struggles with feelings of responsibility to her family, turning into a killer, fighting for the survival of friends, all through a fascinating first-person narrative, you couldn’t help but be drawn into her world.

The fact that it’s told entirely from her perspective is a great insight into the psyche and emotional conflict of Katniss as she progresses through the Games.  The best part was, Katniss’s personality doesn’t try and be all things to all people.  You genuinely feel her growth as a character as each page turns.

So while many will read this book and view it as just another Harry Potter or Twilight, I’d encourage you to approach it with a sense of ‘abandon’.

Let yourself be sucked into Katniss’ world and I can promise you’ll be glad you went on the journey.

By Suzanne Collins. 
Scholastic e-book; 454 pages, $5.99