‘The Hunger Games’ is (Mostly) a Winner ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ◊

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Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins. ... Image via Wikipedia

I consider myself a tough literary critic. Examples?

  • Most of the authors you see on the list of popular novelists are, in my opinion, not that good, being long-winded, unoriginal, and way too caught up on unnecessary details that bog down the stories they write.
  • I love epic fantasy but still haven’t found anything even remotely close to The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia (and don’t say David Eddings, Stephen R. Donaldson or Stephen R. Lawhead; those guys can’t get out of their own way).
  • I have nothing against long novels in and of themselves, but I think that 99% of novels could easily be 50-100 pages shorter … at least.

I also, however, don’t want to be too harsh, as I’m wont to do, so to sum up how I feel about The Hunger Games, which I finally completed this weekend, I’ll say this: it’s no Harry Potter, but it’s pretty darn good.

If you read my earlier posts on The Hunger Games, you’ll know already that I loved the story’s fast-moving, quick-to-the-point beginning but was mostly unimpressed with the part about the journey to the Capitol and the training period that Katniss Everdeen, the main character, went through. Once the Games began, however, the story kept up a reasonably good, though not insatiable, pace, and Katniss’ struggles—physical, mental, and emotional—are well-described. In fact, the writing is solid throughout the book: no awkward sentence structure; few, if any, unnecessary details; and nothing to negatively distract me outside of a few missing commas. In that respect, author Suzanne Collins rivals Harry Potter‘s J.K. Rowling.

Where this book falls short of Potter, in my opinion, is in its lack of a central mystery that continually tugs at the reader, pulling him through to the saga’s end. For Potter, it was the puzzle of who his parents were, who Voldemort was, and why and how they were all connected. For Games, the central question is whether Katniss survives the Games and, if so, what happens to her after that. Well, it’s pretty safe to assume, from the beginning, that she’s going to survive, because we know that there are more books following, and though I am curious to see if and how she successfully rebels against the tyrannical Capitol, those questions just don’t have the same weight of intrigue, for me, that Potter did.

Of course, I must also admit to some bias: Harry Potter’s experience takes place mostly in a medieval castle in England—two settings I absolutely love—whereas Katniss lives in a world that’s futuristic and somewhat-apocalyptic—two traits I traditionally cannot stand. So maybe that’s factoring into my opinion.

All that said, The Hunger Games is well-written, mostly maintains a good pace, and is engaging, with a healthy amount of action. I give it four diamonds out of a possible five, and will give strong consideration to reading its sequel, Catching Fire.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jeyna Grace
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 21:10:56

    The sequel is not as good as the 1st, but its always good to read the whole series.

    Reply

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