The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The premise is simple. At some point in the future, after almost obliterating ourselves the USA emerges as Panem. Panem is comprised of the ruling Capitol and 12 districts. Each year the Hunger Games are held for as a reminder to the districts and as entertainment for the Capitol. The players are chosen from the children from the districts, two from each, boy & girl, and the games are to the death. Only one victor shall prevail.
From the beginning I just couldn't shake the feeling that I've read bits of this story before. Take Shirley Jackson's Lottery, add to it Stephen King's The Long Walk, sprinkle with a dab of The Running Man (King again) and voila! The real problem I intellectually had was that the three stories I just mentioned were just hands down better than The Hunger Games. Now don't get me wrong. This is indeed a serviceable and enjoyable read, sure to be a revelation to young adults who've not read the stories I mentioned previously. There are certainly elements of the Game which are unique, frightening and compelling to Collins.
The story is told well, the characters are rather hollow though and sadly, the stay rather hollow through the rest of the trilogy. While I could review all 3 of the books separately, I won't. Hunger Games actually would have been better as a stand alone book. I have a perverse love of stories that don't wrap neatly up in a little bow as it allows my imagination to take over and spend time on what ifs. The other 2 in the trilogy are again serviceable but I can't say I was surprised by much in the plot "twists." Nor are could they be considered stand alone reads. I was further disappointed in Collins' choice to kill off the ones who had obvious targets on their back from the get go.
In the end,I'll have to settle on a 3 star rating (yes, I know that will make me unpopular). For the record, during the time it's taken me to type this, I've vacillated between 3 and 4 stars, but in the end will have to go with 3. I'll end with advice to read the other stories I mentioned in this review; particularly Jackson's Lottery and King's The Long Walk.
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