Monday, May 18, 2009

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I had not intended to read this book, in spite of its popularity and excellent reviews, because I found the premise distasteful. In a future time, in a place formerly the USA, twenty-four teens are chosen by lottery every year to participate in the hunger games. It is an event broadcast to all citizens, much like survivor reality television shows are today. Except that there can be only one survivor left alive at the end.

My book group chose this title and so I've read it. Collins' writing is of high quality. Katniss, the central character, is 16 and has provided food for her mother and younger sister by hunting and gathering ever since her father died in a mine explosion five years earlier. She knows that people in her town like her but is unaware that it is for her own attributes, and not because they respected her father or because they know they can barter for fresh food from her. When her little sister's name is drawn in the lottery, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She is loyal, courageous and resourceful. As a reader, I had no doubt that she was capable of winning the game.

I liked Katniss but I did not like the book. Two thirds of the way through, as I picked it up to continue reading, I found myself thinking, "I suppose I should see what happens next in this stupid book." The central premise requires a suspension of disbelief that I could never accomplish. Teenagers forced to fight to death? It got even more over-the-top when mutant wolves, with eyes of the players who had already been killed, appeared towards the end of the game. The close of the story forecasts the tension in the next book in the series. I've had enough.

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