Thursday, January 3, 2013

Book Series Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Includes: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay

The Premise:
In an unspecified future and a land known now as Panem, 12 Districts rose up in defiance of The Capitol. The Districts lost. As an annual reminder of its dominance, The Capitol forces each District to offer up two “tributes”, a teenage boy and girl for a total of 24, to participate in a battle to the death, live and televised, in a spectacle known as, “The Hunger Games”. But the selection of one girl, Katniss Everdeen from lowly District 12, sets off a series of events that know one could see coming.

Also, full disclosure, I didn’t read the first book; I only watched the movie, but I was assured that it follows the book pretty closely.

The Good:
The land of Panem is richly imagined, the stakes are life and death and the action moves along at a ripping page turning pace. Each character is well realized and stays true to their nature—teenagers act as teenagers and adults as adults. Mrs. Collins creates rules to this world and follows them wherever they need to go. And, for youth oriented fiction, she explores some pretty heady themes without bogging down the action or getting too preachy.

The Bad:
While the plot is robust and the action vivid, the language is a bit … simplistic. Granted, I don’t read a lot of fiction aimed at teenagers, but I do remember the Harry Potter series having some more interesting turns of phrase. There is nothing wrong with the language, it could just be a bit more fulfilling.

The Verdict:
Buy them. Read them. Share them. These are perfect books for a lazy weekend or a long flight. And the movie adaptation seems strong, too.