Thursday, February 23, 2012

"The Hunger Games"

This post is dedicated to Abeer, a friend of mine who is obsessed with The Hunger Games and anything remotely related. Talk about a great book you recently read and the conversation will slowly and subtly be steered towards how necessary it is for you to read this one. Randomly mention the name of a bookstore and you will soon find yourself listening to a lamentation of the inaccessibility of Hunger Games in a tangible form. Take a peek through the glass library doors and you will see her bent over the counter, filling a book request for    - you guessed it- The Hunger Games. Have a few free moments before a lecture? Out she zips her Xoom tablet and has one of a million version of trailers waiting to be played at her fingertip (with occasional pauses in the middle to clarify each scene and character on the screen).

So when I was browsing bookshelves in the library with her one fine day and heard a series of muffled squeals and gasps followed by three little jumps and the cover of the Hunger Games shoved in my face, it was with a mixture of a secret pumped up curiosity, relief at finally getting to the bottom of this and genuine concern for her nerves that I immediately checked it out and didn't see her next until I was done with it.

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) is the first of a dystopian three-book series set in a controlling regime that forces its citizens annually to give up their children by including them in a draw to be participants of a real-time show where the objective is to kill or be killed.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The Good:
Besides the commendable storyline, the author also did a good job of keeping the suspense high throughout.

I've always had some reservations when it comes to adventurous novels- I don't enjoy watching action-packed films, much less the idea of having to follow the struggles of a fight or a race in words and trying to picture it. But I was happy to find this one defying the typical adventure genre, with the action-packed events being widely-spaced out throughout the novel, and the events themselves not too complicated.

You can never have enough books on the "Big Brother is watching you" theme in my opinion. This book fairly shows the extent those in power can go into controlling the public, including the disguise of reality with a false picture of stability (the "peacemaker" policemen on hand to silence any opposition) and also briefly brings up the fear and frustration such a regime can have on the psychological mind-sets of the public. The mismanagement of such governments is described well through the state of Katniss (the main character) and her family's struggles to survive.

The Bad:
The first thing I like asking myself after completing a novel is, "How has this book made me a more mature thinker?" I can't help thinking Collins fell behind on that. The theme of her story had so much more potential than she allowed it. I was expecting a greater stress on the philosophies behind the scenes, and greater depths in the events that happened. I was waiting to see how the Games impact Katniss, how they threaten her humaneness and the compassion of everyone around her. I am not claiming that the answers to these aren't there- but I hoped they would be more the lessons that the author is loudly trying to get across to the reader rather than something left to us to pick on.

At one point, Katniss and her fellow participant Peeta are exchanging their anxious thoughts the night before the Games begin. Peeta says, "Only I keep wishing there was a way to show the Capitol that they don't own me...that I'm more than just a piece in their Games." I think this is the closest the book comes to its own theme. I was looking forward to see how Peeta (or Katniss) will find a way to show this, and was disappointed by the way things turned out in the end.

I think the best writers of novels are those cruelest to their characters and yet Katniss was practically Suzanne Collin's China Doll! Yes, she was put in the most unfortunate of situations but always managed to get out of them safe and sound. This pampering reached its peak with the announcement through the Trumpet that the unchangeable rules of the Games have been changed, all so that Katniss won't go through the dilemma of having to kill Peeta. This did  turn out to be a ploy, but we only discover that at the end, and for the majority of the novel, the readers' minds are at ease concerning this, when they shouldn't be.

And the Ugly:
Ugly may be too cruel a word to use but Suzanne Collins would not make it to the top ....let's say fifty- good literary writers. She may be an awesome storyteller but she's just plain lazy when it comes to writing beautifully.

And let me not get started on the whole mess of Katniss and Peeta having to pretend that they love each other to survive but Peeta is pretending to pretend and Katniss in my opinion is also just pretending that she is pretending but she is pretending that she doesn't know that she is pretending to pretend. You see?

Also, this just so put me off:  Stephenie Meyer (author of the Twilight series) said, "I was so obsessed with this book....The Hunger Games is amazing."


I realize I may have criticized this book more than praised it. I don't really know how that happened because I was planning on making this a positive review. :/ Anyway, I give this book four stars, for managing to keep me captivated throughout despite all its frustrations.

10 comments:

  1. I've had this in my reading list for a while now. Really need to read it!

    Oh and, you have a new follower
    =)

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    Replies
    1. Go ahead! But this post had so many spoilers :(

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  2. Omg isn't Hunger Games the best or what! I cannot WAIT for the movie! Trailer's sucha thrill =)

    P.s- super cute blog, yours!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I'm really looking forward to how the movie will turn out to be

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  3. Nice overview. It seems like the book falls short in some areas, but maybe as an action movie it'll make up for the shortcomings. Sometimes the movie IS better than the book.

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  4. I get it now! Well I was hoping someone I knew would criticise it so that I can stop liking it so very much. I completely get your point of view about the question you must ask after you're done with a book. My mom nags me about the same thing! But I feel that some novels are meant to be enjoyed rather than learned from, they should touch your heart in some way. And this one touched mine. I am obsessed about The Hunger Games! The excitement and thrill was definitely worth it!

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    Replies
    1. Aww, yes if something touched your heart its definitely worth being obsessed over!

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