Book Reviews, Fiction

The Hunger Games (review)

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t remember who recommended The Hunger Games to me but I downloaded it—probably for free—on my Kindle a while ago. When I found that none of my unread Christian novels on the same device were appealing (after awhile they all start out sounding the same), I decided to dip into the Games.

Wow! What a hard-to-put-down tome. Set in a futuristic America, I suppose it would be classified as a YA dystopian because the heroine Katniss is a teenager and everything is grim, dangerous, with a big-brother-is watching feel. Each character has his or her mystery: Katniss, Peeta, Prim, Gale—even the names are perfect for the futuristic setting.

There’s so much going on—so much ruse and deception. No one knows what’s what. We’re solidly in Katniss’s head and she doesn’t trust anyone, so we’re suspicious of everyone too. She interprets all of life through the lens of the underdog. But we see the reaction of the crowd, the judges, Peeta, and we wonder, is she seeing things realistically? Or is she being too suspicious? At the same time, we’re liking her suspicion and guardedness, sure that it will help her survive.

The reality show part of the plot is brilliant, given the current reality show craze on TV. These games are terrifying and brutal with each player’s life on the line. Surprises are everywhere. Though there is a comic book superhero feel to some of the “tributes” (what the Hunger Game contestants are called), by this time in the book we’ve bought into the fantasy aspect to the extent that even their impossible antics feel plausible.

For two reasons I give this book four stars, not five: for its violence and portrayal of sex.

To be fair, Katniss does not kill gratuitously. And the killing she does bothers her. Still some of the scenes are very gruesome and disturbing.

On the sexual front, not much goes on past kissing and cuddling which, on Katniss’s part, is all an act—or is it? What disturbs me about this is the subtle message that it’s okay to compromise your principles, to play a part (here the part of the lover) if there’s enough at stake. That’s something I don’t believe is true. There is something more important than even physical survival (depicted in the Bible’s portrayal of the final battle between good and evil – Revelation 12:7-11, especially vs. 11).

Taking the above into consideration, if you want a few hours of total escape, The Hunger Games won’t disappoint.

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