Not another blog post about The Hunger Games? a.k.a. The Inevitable Blog Post

About two weeks ago, I wrote a blog about books that people presume I have read, that I haven’t. Among the books I mentioned in that post was The Hunger Games series, by Suzanne Collins. Since then, I have finished the first book, and am about to commence reading the second tonight, so I thought now would be a good time to, if not exactly review, discuss some of my thoughts regarding what I have read so far, as well as some of the issues other people are having with the book.

I must admit, I approached this book with caution. It had been so hyped up, and while the story sounded interesting (although alarmingly like that of Battle Royale), I did harbour significant doubt. Much of the hype, especially generated by the movie, seems to be about ridiculous things as well, from people comparing it to Twilight (no, please don’t say “Team Peeta”, because firstly you look like an idiot, and secondly this is absolutely nothing like Twilight), to the shocking racism of people appearing over social networks (over the colour of Rue’s skin in the movie…which happened to match the book’s description exactly, thereby only proving how stupid and ignorant the people making these racist comments really are).

Anyway, I digress. I opened the book up, and read the first chapter. Then I read the second, and the third, and I realised very quickly that I was reading this book at a ferocious speed, and had to use all of my willpower to put a bookmark in the book, place it next to me, and go to sleep before the sun came up. For the next couple of days, my reading of this book occurred in a similar manner. At times I found myself surprisingly on edge, my eyes wide open and my jaw gaping as I swept through some of the more dramatic scenes in the actual Hunger Games tournament itself. And then suddenly, before I knew it, it was over, the book had ended, and I stopped to catch my breath.

I think what I have just described is one of the main strengths of the book – the absolutely rollicking pace. Although the writing isn’t particularly strong or mindblowing (and at times towards the end of the book it actually felt a bit clumsy, particular when Katniss was just thinking to herself), it didn’t need to be anything special because the plot and the characters carried the story so well, and any kind of flowery language would have just slowed it down. It was very easy to visualise the story as well, which I suspect is why it has translated to film so well (I am yet to see the film, though), and perhaps most importantly, the language was accessible in such a way as to be enjoyable by readers of various ages and reading abilities.

Do I think it is a teenage novel? Yes, but I think it can be thoroughly enjoyed by adults as well.

Do I think it is too violent for teenagers? No, of course not – teenagers learn about the horrors and atrocities of many of the wars and war crimes of last century as they go through high school. If they learn about these real atrocities, which are much more horrific than the fictional matter of the Hunger Games, then why are people making such a big deal about the violence in this story? Sure it is a little brutal and confronting (particularly the characters of Cato and Clove – the hatred in these characters is quite scary), but we can’t sugarcoat everything – they’re teenagers, not toddlers, and this is a fictional novel, not a behaviour guide that is instantly going to make teenagers everywhere become more violent. Get a grip, people!

And lastly, do I think this is a good dystopian novel? Yes, on the whole. Many people compare it back to the classic dystopian novels, such as Brave New World and 1984, but we have to keep in mind that both of those novels were written in the first half of the twentieth century – it’s like comparing apples and oranges. The concept of dystopia itself has shifted dramatically in the last half a century, particularly as some of the ideas in those older novels are actually coming to fruition, and so dystopian novels now are likely to move in new directions, and to attract a different kind of audience. I won’t say this book was a classic, but it is certainly hinting at the future of this genre of fiction.

The Hunger Games is not likely to take a place among my favourite novels of all time, but, having said that, it is a really good novel, and I did actually give it 5 stars on GoodReads (I sat there deciding between a 4 and a 5 for a while…I think I would have settled for a 4.5). If you’ve been avoiding reading this because of all the hype, like I was doing, I urge you to give this a go – you might be pleasantly surprised.

If you have read this, what are your thoughts on it? Overrated? The best book you’ve read in ages? A load of rubbish? I’d love to hear people’s opinions on this.

30 thoughts on “Not another blog post about The Hunger Games? a.k.a. The Inevitable Blog Post

  1. Pingback: ‘Fire is Catching’ | freyamorel

    • I know what you mean, although I think this is one of those book series you’re unlikely to get bored with, as so much happens so quickly. Then again, I am yet to read the other two books (which I will no doubt write about later this month)…Time will tell, I suppose. 😛

      • I bet my daughter would like them. I try to stay away from any book that contains lots of the following, violence, swearing, immorality, etc, etc. I think that books should have an age appropriate sign, like a film.

    • Definitely give it a try, because I think this is one of those rare occasions where the hype is actually warranted (unlike other series of books which may or may not involve sparkly vampires… 😛 ).

  2. Hate to come in being the negative nancy, but Hunger Games’ lightness actually turned me off. I feel like the situation left plenty of room for some interesting subtext, but there just wasn’t anything beneath the surface, scratch though I might. The movie actually capitalized a little better on this potential, and the visual details, imo, helped fill out the world where Collins’ lack of description failed. I read the first book–like you–all the way through in a hungry gulp, but when I was done, I felt like I’d just eaten a big puff of cotton candy: sweet and easy, but nothing new or nutritious.

    You are 100% right to shoot down Twilight comparisons, though. These two series aren’t even in the same category.

    • I do know what you mean, and I suspect by the time I get to the end of the trilogy the lack of description is going to start to irk me a little. It was ridiculously easy to read, which is generally a good thing though I suppose if you’re used to reading more challenging stuff, it might be annoying. I guess for now though I’m enjoying it for its lightness.
      I think people are just comparing it to Twilight because both series happen to be popular, maybe? Or perhaps people are just stupid. I don’t know sometimes hahaha.

  3. I may have to crack open my copy of Hunger Games now that I’ve read your review. I’ve been staring at it this past week, considering the amount of work I have to do and wondering if I can take a day off work because I stayed up to late reading. Again.

    Also, how is the 12in12 challenge going for you? I haven’t seen a blog post on it since Feb…I think. I could just be crazy thought. I do have to admit, I admire your ability to blog so often and so well.

    I want to mention one thing though. It irks me when everything is compared to Twilight. It’s like that rubbish is supposed to be the book of the century or something. Heck, even one of my own books was compared to Twilight just because I happen to include *le gasp* vampires. Nevermind that there’s zero romance and vampires are slaughtering each other, I still got the “it’s like Twilight” thing…./rant.

    • Yeah, it is pretty hard to put down once you start Hunger Games. I read it quickly because I have been off sick from work (and am likely to remain this way for quite some time, for better or worse), so that was kind of convenient timing if nothing else, haha.

      I agree, as well, I don’t know why people compare everything back to Twilight or Harry Potter, just because they have vampires or magic in them. Or even if they have neither of this things. I mean, Twilight will fall off the face of the earth within this decade, and people won’t remember it anymore, because it’s not a classic and it’s not good, it’s just trash. The sooner people realise this, the bettter. It must be annoying for you to see your own books compared like that too, that would irk me big time.

      As for the 12 novellas challenge, yeah, it is flailing a little bit. I’ve had a few issues both at work and then with my health that have slowed me down massively, so after doing so well in January, my February and March novellas remain unfinished, and I don’t even know what to do for my April novella (and this is on top of Poetry Writing Month that I am doing this month :S ). I want to try and catch everything back up so that at the end of April I have the first 4 novellas finished – a big task but I think I can do it. Once it’s looking like it’s progressing again, I’ll blog about it. 🙂 How is it going for you?

      And thanks for the compliment about my blog, too! I do find a lot of enjoyment in blogging, something I wasn’t expecting at the start of this year. It’s really quite addictive…

      • Ah then I should start it on a Sunday morning so I can spend an entire day just reading. If I start it at night, I won’t go to bed and I kinda need sleep. Sometimes.

        I think the comparrison is there because Twilight and Harry Potter are the two big things right now. Soon people will begin comparing everything to the Hunger Games. Hell, there’s all ready memes dedicated to one of the characters. I’ll be happy once Twilight is forgotten about and goes into the dusty part of the library that holds really “meh” fiction. Annoying isn’t even the word. I actually dedicated an entire blog post to why my book wasn’t like Twilight…ha.

        I’ll be okay for this month. I don’t mean to sound braggy but I managed to write 147,543 words for March because I started another novel. Oh and I write really quickly and obsessively under a lot of stress for some reason.

        Anyway, the novel in question isn’t quite done but I’ll finish it before the weekend I’m sure. I just added about 5K to it tonight. Once it’s done, I’ve got two short stories to finish. After that, I have no idea. I do have a whole bunch of ideas, it’s mainly picking one that’s the problem. I really want to work on an idea I got during NaNo but I’m saving it for this NaNo because I want the word count and know I can get it in one shot with this idea.

        I can’t seem to get into blogging. I have a blog, it’s been up for some time but, eh, I don’t know. I have great ideas for blogs but I just get distracted by shiny things or something. It’s actually kind of funny to go back to my early blog posts because I remember how stoked I was. Then the newness wore off or something. I don’t know. I think I’m just wired weird. Even as a kid I couldn’t keep a regular journal and that’s basically what blogging is…

        /mega long post *coughcough*

        • Oh, you’re absolutely right, people are comparing it to HP and Twilight because they’re both big and they’re both there, basically. And I think HP will remain quite big, but Twilight, as you say, will soon be forgotten about, and people will eventually remember that vampires do not in fact sparkle.

          That is really impressive you wrote so much for March, I don’t know where you get the energy to write so much. I don’t think I have ever broken the 6 digits for words in a month, though I have probably come close before. I write well under stress, but not that well, hahah! (Mind, this month my body seems to have just burned out and crumbled and I am really sick, which is how I have fallen so far behind). But good luck with figuring out what to write about for your next story! I need to sit down and try and work out what genres are left, as I was supposed to be attempting different genres. So far I’ve covered a Dystopian Parody (I think I invented that one), a Romance, and a Historical. I need to finish the last two before I decide what April’s genre will be.

          I know what you mean, blogging is funny like that. This blog isn’t the first blog I have ever had, but the last few times I was into it for a few posts and then I just got bored of it, and likewise, I have never been good at keeping a journal or diary. I’m not entirely sure why I have kept at it this time, though I guess I have more of a focus and general theme, and I have received a much stronger response this time from readers too, and found myself in a lovely community of other bloggers and writers. Essentially, I think I have gone far enough that there’s no going back now, when it comes to blogging, hahaha. But it does eat into the time I would be writing fiction 😛 But that’s okay, I can deal with that. I think in 2013 I’m going to slow down my writing and focus more on editing and rewriting the better stories…

          • I never really understood the sparkly-ness of Meyer’s vampires. It just never made sense to me. I mean give them anything else but sparkling. Sparkling isn’t dark and evil. I’m not saying vampires have to be dark and evil but it’s kind of assumed with the whole drinking blood thing…

            My final count for last night was 7,200 in about 5 hours. It’s not energy really. It’s more wanting to finish this novel, not wanting to think about the real world and having zero social life…ha. Being sick and trying to write sucks. I’m not even covering genres intentionally but I think I may have done a few different ones accidently. The dystopian parody sounds really interesting. For NaNo I’m doing a fantasy parody where the characters know the author exists. It should be perfect for word count as any insane thing I want can go in it.

            It’s a good blog compared to some others I’ve seen. You’re well deserving of the awards you’ve gotten. Ah, rewriting. Yeah, I have to do that eventually. There’s at least two novels I wrote about five years ago that have to be redone just because they aren’t up to par with what I can put out now. Plus one doesn’t have a plot really and I’m not entirely sure how that happened.

  4. I haven’t read this series but I have watched the film which I did enjoy. One of the best thing about the film was the pace; it’s nearly 2.5 hours long but doesn’t feel like it. I might read the books in the future, your review has given me hope that I would enjoy them. I am about to start Brave New World and I have 1984 to read later in my challenge so I’ll have to see what I think of those as well. When the media kept saying its the next twilight, I was expecting a strong romantic storyline in this story but there isn’t. I think the only comparison is droves of teenage fans bumping up the box office takings and buying all the merchandise.

    • I have heard people say that about the film, actually, that it doesn’t feel as long as it is! That is definitely how I would describe the pace of the books as well, I imagine if you liked the film you’d like the book.
      Ooh, I’ll be curious to see what you think of Brave New World and 1984, I love both of those books. I studied Brave New World in high school, actually, as a comparative study with the film Bladerunner. 1984 I just read out of curiosity a couple of years later.
      I don’t know why the media described it as the next twilight…it really just shows how little the media has any idea what they’re talking about, most of the time. 😛

  5. I think you did a fair and just analysis of the book. It seems most of us crazy voracious readers seemed to want to skirt around the books. It personally took me 3 attempts to read the books. I could not get into how Collins chose to write the narration, Katniss was, at times, a little too much for me to swallow. It wasn’t until the other characters were more developed that I began to enjoy the story. I think the biggest strengths to her story are the plot and the characters she has created. Again, I am not a huge fan of Katniss, but the other characters seem to paint a more vivid picture of the emotions that are associated with the events that unfold.

    • Yes, I agree with you, I think it’s the other characters, such as Peeta and Gale, and even Haymitch to an extend, which are much stronger and vivid – I am a few chapters into Catching Fire now and it is only now that I am actually starting to feel sympathy for Katniss. I suppose though it’s tricky, because she is meant to be this almost emotionless being who has put up a brick wall around herself and her emotions to protect herself, only to find this will become her very undoing, and I guess people actually do this in real life, block off their emotions, so it is kind of realistic in that respect, but tricky to know how to respond to as a reader, perhaps.
      I will be curious to see how I feel about the whole trilogy when I have finished the second and third books…

  6. I read all three books and loved them. I saw the movie and borderline hated it. Funny you should mention Battle Royale though. My husband was reading something somewhere shortly after we saw the movie and was astonished at how remarkably similar the plots were. So, in an effort to defend Suzanne Collins’ honor, I said, “yeah, but the sequels are different!” He proceeded to read aloud the description of Battle Royale 2, and I was forced to bow my head in shame. Now I have to see these movies and suck up reading the subtitles. I think I might even blog about it. : )

    • Oh wow now that’s interesting, I think you’re the first person I have spoken to who hasn’t liked the movie, though I have spoken to a lot who distinctly prefer the books over the movie. I also didn’t know Battle Royale had sequels that had likewise similar plots, that is interesting. The funny thing is, people keep trying to push this fact about these similarities into the limelight, but it’s as if people know and still aren’t really bothered about it, like society is just accepting that a lot of big ideas now are rehashed from old ideas (that’s a bit sad if it’s true).
      I would be curious to hear what you think of it if you do go and watch the other movies! 🙂

  7. I enjoyed this, but having read it just after another YA dystopian series “Chaos Walking” by Patrick Ness, I simply couldn’t love it as much as some, since Ness does such a stellar job at tackling a lot of complicated issues through his books, and does so in a way that actually begs for discussion. Having now read book 2 and 3 of the Hunger Games trilogy, I can see that a lot of issues are addressed in these books as well, but I felt they were only being reflected on in the later books.

    I agree that the books are easy to visualise and I think the movie did particularly well.

    • I know what you mean, I am halfway through the second book of the HG trilogy and it’s only now it feels like they are actually addressing some of the issues in more detail, rather than the first book which, as enjoyable as it was, was kind of an explosion of events after more events.

      That other YA dystopian series you speak of by Patrick Ness sounds interesting, I will have to look into that. I am finding this resurgence of dystopian literature quite interesting, and a lot of it might be a good way to help attract a new generation who are drifting further away from reading than ever before…so I will definitely look into this! 🙂

  8. To be honest, I actually loved the Hunger Games trilogy. When I first read this book, I was immediately hooked. I’m sure once you finished the trilogy, you would be somewhat disappointed and relieved at the same time. The conclusion of the trilogy is not far from what could actually happen, should these circumstances actually occur in the real world. Overall, it’s a good read.

    Do I think it’s the best I’ve read? Not as much. I can say that it’s the best picture of war for some years now. I can imagine myself having my kids read this just so they can have a brief understanding of how war works and how the media can turn it into a (profit-making) circus. I don’t understand why some compare it to the glitzy Twilight “saga” considering that Meyer endlessly committed grammatical errors and piled one one vague description after the other. Hahahaha. Twilight is all about having a diamondy boyfriend that wants to zuck my vlood! Hunger Games on the other hand humanizes the protagonist in order to survive, giving enough room for some moral dilemmas and internal conflict resolution.

    Whew! Hahahaha.

    • I agree! Especially about the Twilight thing – Twilight is only popular because it was cleverly marketed at the right moment, and because the main female character in that series is an empty shell of a character that female readers (particularly young female readers) can place themselves into in order to carry out the idolisation of the boring, sparkly love interest. It just has no depth whatsoever, and like you say, Hunger Games definitely has a certain amount of depth – it is thought provoking, beyond that of “oh I wish a vampire several times my age would come and steal me away,” hahaha.

  9. Pingback: Not another blog post about Catching Fire and Mockingjay (The Inevitable Blog Post, part two)… | wantoncreation

  10. Having read Battle Royale just after moving to Japan several years ago and just finishing HG a day ago, I note similiarities between to the two, but what books don’t share common themes. I would like to see the movie, but as of yet there is not a single release date for Japan; I’d wager a guess and say there is a distribution war going on behind the scenes.

    • Oh wow, it’s not been released in Japan yet? Considering it was essentially a world-wide release back on March, yeah I’d say you’re right, something is going on behind the scenes! I wonder how it will do at the box office over there. I still haven’t seen it myself somehow, but it’s supposed to be very good.

      • When Battle Royale, book and then movie, came out here there was a lot of controversy over the content; kids killing kids is generally taboo over here, oddly enough with the amount of other things that are considered ok is frightening at times.
        There is no release date what so ever for the movie here, doesn’t mean that a few months down the road it won’t come out. So for now I’ll have to be content with the books.

        • Ah wow? I mean really that idea should be taboo everywhere, but I guess some parts of society around the world seem to be a lot more desensitised than others.
          Oh well, if it makes you feel any better I probably won’t get around to seeing the movie at the cinemas anyway, and will probably have to wait until a few months when it’s released on DVD.

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