Everyone’s been talking about it. The Hunger Games. My wife and a friend read them all about a month ago and once I finished the latest sci-fi book I had been working on I picked up the first one. I couldn’t put it down and spent a day and a half finishing them all (with some time in-between for homework). I can’t wait for the movie.
Now I’ve reflected with spoilers in another post (see my “Christian Reflection on the Hunger Games Trilogy“), but for now I want to have a brief spoiler-free discussion. I want to provide a quick bit of overview for readers interested in the books or wondering about getting them for their children.
I think the books are fantastic. They’re well-written and engaging. Readers will be instantly sucked in to the plot and won’t be able to stop until they’ve gone through them all. I do recommend them. Are they the next Harry Potter? In some ways, yes. The books are just as easy to get sucked in to, just as memorable, and have a long term impact. But in some ways, no. First, they’ve all been written, so [speaking for myself and, I suspect, many others] it’s not going to be year after year waiting for each one to come out, anticipating them as they come. They aren’t as long as the Harry Potter books, either, and can be finished even more quickly.
What Suzanne Collins does well, however, is spin a suspenseful tale. The books are written in first person, from the perspective of Katniss Everdeen. The Hunger Games is an annual tournament in which the Capitol collects 2 children from the 12 districts of Panem (the mini-country that has risen from the dust of several wars) and makes them battle to the death. Why? Because about 74 years ago, the districts revolted against the Capitol. The Capitol won and the Hunger Games serve as an annual reminder of the Capitol’s might. Katniss is, herself, very likable. One can’t help but relate to her as the story continues. The plot of the trilogy follows this story to an epic conclusion, and all I can say is that it is definitely worth readers’ time to pick them up. I have a few concerns, but I don’t want to spoil anything. I’ll link to my spoileriffic reflections when they go live.
I would caution readers who are thinking about getting the books for their kids. They are very, very violent. Children are killed. And it’s never explicit, but some sexual exploitation is acknowledged. These are not books to go and get for your 7-year-old. I do think they might become a new mainstay for high school reading. They are books that will encourage people to read, just as Harry Potter did. And regardless of one’s perspective, I think that getting people reading is always a good thing.
Those are my initial thoughts on the series. Check out my expanded and spoiler-filled reflection here.