The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Book Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings reviews the first book in the Young Adult Trilogy The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins and published by Scholastic Books. It’s also scheduled to be released as a film next year.
“A Page-turning adventure that took me completely by surprise. The Hunger Games is a very good piece of Young Adult fiction. Believe the hype.” ~The Founding Fields
It’s not often that I read a young adult novel that isn’t written by Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider), Michael Grant (Gone and sequels) or James Patterson (Maximum Ride), but after hearing all the hype about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and watching this trailer, I thought I’d take the plunge and see if it lived up to my high expectations. And those expectations had to be high, as I’d just come out of novels like The Killing Floor by Lee Child and Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks (I finished The Hunger Games before Death Masks), and I was wondering if I would be able to continue the momentum.
And, as I read the novel in less than a day, even quicker then I ended up reading Death Masks, which was a really fast paced read, I’m going to have to say that The Hunger Games is one of the best pieces of young adult fiction that I’ve read in a while. However, it did have its issues.
The Hunger Games is told entirely from the first person POV of Katniss (I’ll come onto the names later), who is a sixteen year old girl residing with her mother and sister in District 12, the poorest of the twelve districts in Panem, a place that used to be the United States. As a punishment for a war that the districts lost with the Capitol long ago, each district decided to send one boy and one girl to appear in the titular event, The Hunger Games, where survival is all that matters. You kill, or are killed. And there can only be one victor.
And Katniss is not the one chosen for the Games. It is her younger sister, who is chosen by lottery, forcing Katniss to volunteer, with the other, male tribute from District 12 being Peeta Mellark, Both are taken away from their families in order to be trained by the last District 12 winner of the Hunger Games that remains alive, Haymitch Abernathy. There’s just one problem. Haymitch has seemingly given up hope, with the odds being stacked against Katniss and Peeta making it almost impossible for one of them to come out on top. And, on top of all that, only one can survive.
Collins successfully portrays a dark future, that although is not entirely original (Battle Royale) is certainly well-thought out and developed. She also has the ability to move the plot along at such a pace that will keep you turning pages until the end of the novel. Although perhaps a bit brutal for readers younger than sixteen/seventeen that fit into the genre of Young Adult, The Hunger Games promises to be an enthralling read for both adults and older teenagers alike.
This leads me onto the fact that perhaps the marketing wasn’t done as well as it could have been, and I believe if it had been targeted at the aforementioned age group, adults/older teenagers, The Hunger Games would have probably been a bit more appealing to people who don’t usually pick up Young Adult stuff, like me for example.
Now, I mentioned earlier in this review that I was going to discuss the odd names used in this novel, and I might as well talk about them now. I mean, I’m not a big fan of the odd names like Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, Thresh, Rue, Marvel etc, and surely it wouldn’t hurt to throw in the odd simpler, more common names in there? I mean, they just feel kind of out of place. I know they probably shouldn’t, but then again, maybe it’s just me.
Another issue that I had with The Hunger Games is that the novel ends with a cliffhanger. I know it’s not much of a problem and I shouldn’t have an issue with it, but this kind of forces me to want to go out and get the next instalment in the trilogy, Catching Fire, if you want a conclusion to the novel. And, it gets worse – apparently there’s a cliffhanger at the end of Catching Fire, too.
But enough talk about the sequel. The Hunger Games is a violent, suspense-packed novel that although it doesn’t get 5/5, certainly is a lot of fun to read and I can only hope that Collins doesn’t let us down with the sequel. Top-notch stuff and I have to say, I wasn’t expecting this to live up to all the hype that it was generating.
This is an absolute joy to read, and if you’re a fan of dystopian-future novels, young adult or not, then rest assured, you should enjoy this.
More Hunger Games: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay
More Suzanne Collins: Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, Gregor and the Code of Claw.