The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1) - Suzanne Collins I've had the Kindle version of "The Hunger Games" sitting on my reader for a few weeks, and now that I finally got to read it, I'm wondering: why didn't I do that sooner? The only reason I didn't read this book in two days instead of one is probably that I'm staying at friends' for part of my holidays; had I been left to my own devices, it probably wouldn't have lasted that long. One thing I can't deny it is that it's definitely a page-turner.

The world in which the novel is set seems consistent. We don't get to know everything about it, but life in Ditrict 12 was described with enough accuracy for me to feel what it must be like; same with the actual setting of the Hunger Games themselves, and the events that unfolded during them, each tribute having to survive not only the others, but also the natural environment—well, 'natural' inasmuch as it was crafted by the government, that is. As usual in dystopian novels, I want to know more about what led to such a government, and what happened to the rest of the world, and we're not given information about that; however, I was still under the impression that this information was lying somewhere behind the scenes, and that the author had actually thought about it. I'm eager to see if books 2 and 3 will confirm this. (I don't want a whole history book; just the feeling that the world is well-built, even if 90% of that building work is never actually used in the course of the story.)

I didn't find the characters extremeely developed, but they were enough to make me believe in their presence, and enough to play the part I wanted to see them play. Mostly they showed themselves as sharp and resourceful, and even some that seemed like goners from the start proved that they were able to put on a fight of their own, in their own ways. Although I'm not sure yet about where the whole romance aspect is going to head, I liked how slanted it was: not insta-love, and with the underlying suspicion that it was all an act. (I bet it isn't, not really, but Katniss seemed to be confused enough about it for me to wonder if she fell in love for real, yet believed she was only acting her part? Or did she act all along? Could such intensity be faked? The fact that she doesn't get Peeta's feelings until the end also adds to this twisted side of the romance. Besides, let's not forget that in such situations of survival, sometimes instincts make people act differently than they would have in normal circumstances, and I think that this could be important here, too.)

The story itelf isn't the most original per se; the concept of man-hunting isn't new in writing, and it's been seen more than once already. That said, even though it's nothing new, and I suspected where it was going from an early time on, I still liked it, just as I liked the slight twist at the end of the Games. There are times when expecting something and seeing it happen just fills me with thrill; it was the case here. The characters also remain immersed into the action, without spending much useless time on wallowing in guilt, nor giving in to remorse at just the wrong moment. This isn't always easy to pull. However, one thing I thought was missing, was some real confrontation between Katniss and someone she actually cared about. It seemed to me that conveniently enough, the painful choice of having to face one of her 'allies' was always removed from her. For instance, sooner or later she would have had to kill Rue, but she never had to make that choice. The same goes with the wasps or the berries: the direct act of killing was tempered by the 'natural' buffer put between killer and victims. Even the poisoning act was, somehow, a way of avoiding a direct kill. I know this is a YA novel, but it would have been even more powerful if once, just once, such a choice had had to be made, and things hadn't been made 'easier' for Katniss in that regard.