Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games (book)

Two introductory items today:  First, I read a lot.  Not just comic books, but all kinds of books, plus newspapers and online news and various other stuff.  I think reading is the key to knowledge and entertainment.  Truth is, I’d rather read than watch TV or see a movie. There are some TV shows and movies I love to watch, but generally I like to read more.

Second, I don’t like to see a movie based on a book unless I’ve read the book first.  As a rule, the book is always better anyway.  I can think of only 1 or 2 examples where the movie is better than the book.  It’s a very rare occurrence.

This is why I recently made a goal to read the book The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is shelved with the “tween” books at my local library.  I’ll readily admit my tween years were long long ago.  However, I really enjoy reading a lot of books that fall under the younger readers category.  I recommend to everyone not to be limited by such labels, and read whatever you think sounds good, not what falls under some arbitrary category.

As to the book itself: I couldn’t put it down!!  It was very engrossing.  I thought it did a good job keeping the action moving and staying unpredictable.  And it’s very easy to be predictable in an action adventure.  Some stories seem to follow a checklist, and especially when the plot of the Hunger Games involves eliminating opponents in a contest.

Speaking of which, let me give you a spoiler-light rundown of the plot.  The Hunger Games takes place on a future dystopian Earth, in a country that sits where the United States currently is.  The main character, Katniss Everdeen, lives in the lowest class district in a rigid caste system.  There are 12 lower castes who must send young representatives to compete in a deadly contest.  The contest is held for the entertainment of the upper class and to show the lower class where they stand in the world.  This is class warfare!

The buildup to the games tells how hard life is for Katniss and her family and how her illegal hunting keeps them fed.  Katniss’ survival skills will help her later in the arena.  The story also does a great job showing the excesses of the upper class, and the power they have over everyone else.  There really seems no alternative to the other classes than to follow the inhumane rules out forth by their leaders.

Like any good story, the key is for the reader to become emotionally involved with the fates of the characters.  I found myself really rooting for Katniss and several other contestants, though I knew the rules only allowed one person to survive the arena.  And though I was confident that Katniss would make it through the book, the fates of the other characters were not as obvious.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this trilogy and hoping the ruling class gets their comeuppance in the end.  In other words, I want a truly happy ending.  Other than some Kirby comics, I don’t usually care for dystopian fiction, because I don’t read to get depressed, and I have a more positive outlook for our future.  I think this series will be a fun read no matter what, but I think it will be better if I get the ending I’m hoping for!

(Next week I plan to review the latest episode of Out With Dad.  It was released yesterday, but I need to watch it a few more times to get my thoughts straight!)

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