Tuesday, November 17, 2009

(Not Your Typical) Book Review: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

I finally get it.

Now, I finally understand what all the buzz in the book blogging community has been over Suzanne Collins' novel, The Hunger Games.

I resisted this one for awhile. It was not, I'd decided, a book I was even remotely interested in reading. Too futuristic for my refined taste, I scoffed. The cover didn't seem all that appealing, and even if I did try this, I probably wouldn't last 50 pages.

But then I saw it at the library, on display, just propped up on a shelf. And I thought, all right ... enough. Resistence is futile. Especially when it is staring you in the face, practically begging you to read.

Having finished it last night - and reading an article in this morning's paper about the USDA's latest report showing that there are 17 million children in the United States who are hungry - I stand corrected and apologetic on my previous misconceptions.

I'm left with the same sense post Hunger Games that I had after reading Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, the sense that although the book is set in a far-off time and place, it is disturbingly plausible. (Especially so this morning with the new controversial - and foreboding, if you ask me - "recommendations" on mammography from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force.)

The Hunger Games has been reviewed by everybody, so you don't need me to recap the plot. But suffice it to say that the very notion of a time and a place where children are randomly selected to compete (a la "Survivor") and kill one another (a la Lord of the Flies) for the opportunity to eat, is disturbingly realistic. In addition, the element of these games playing themselves out for a national television audience is also a little too close to home (and brilliant on author Suzanne Collins' part).

Because there are elements already in place in today's real-life society in the United States for such a scenario, the reader can easily envision such a time when The Hunger Games could become one hell of a Must-See TV.

With 17 million children going hungry in the United States, we're damn close to being there. But with Americans' appetite for all things frivolous, and our gluttonous feasting on a junk-food tabloid fodder of celebrity "news" when 17 million hungry kids are in our midst, make no mistake.

We are tuned in to the wrong reality show.

One final question: would you give this book as a holiday present to a 5th grader? He's a mature kid, only reads series, so I am thinking about this and Catching Fire. Thoughts?

Here's what just a handful of other bloggers had to say:

Reviews by Lola
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?
Devourer of Books
Booking Mama
Books and Movies
Beth Fish Reads
Linus’s Blanket
Presenting Lenore
1 More Chapter
At Home with Books
S Krishna’s Books
Nose in a Book
The Zen Leaf
Bart’s Bookshelf
Fizzy Thoughts
Medieval Bookworm
Shhh I'm Reading
Rhapsody in Books
The 3R's Blog: Reading 'Riting, and Randomness

... and still more reviews from the Book Blogs Search Engine!


rhapsodyinbooks said...

You'd be surprised (or maybe not) how many people to whom I have spoken who think the numbers about poverty and hungry children are a myth; that a country with our wealth couldn't possible have such number, and that this can only be a ruse by the Democrats to turn the country "socialist." Meanwhile, many go hungry and don't even go in for health care because it would be too expensive. Whenever I see a movie star wearing jewelry worth a gazillion dollars I think, wow, think how many that could feed!

Florinda said...

I know what you mean about finally "getting it" with this book. I wish I hadn't been such a holdout - and I'm glad that s hundred book bloggers weren't wrong :-)!

A fifth-grader might be a little young for some of this, IMO. But I can tell you that my tenth-grader just LOVED both of the books.

Belle said...

I've resisted the Hunger Games so far because I don't really like dystopian fiction, but then I read rhapsodyinbooks' review and that made me rethink my decision. Now I've read this post, and you know what? I think I WILL give this one a try!

Priya said...

I loved this book and the sequel as well. I agree with Florinda, I think it may be a little mature for a fifth-grader, but I think anyone in seventh grade or up would enjoy it a lot.

bermudaonion said...

Well, I think it's official now - I'm the last person in the world who hasn't read this. I've had the book since May, so I really don't have an excuse.

Lisa said...

I've checked this out of the library at least 3 times. We're headed there this morning and if it's on the shelf I'm going to try again. I have got to find time to read this.