My first review on my first site Weldon Witness was on The Hunger Games, and I gave it one and a half stars out of four. But two-hundred and fifty book reads later, I now think it’s actually kind of better than quite a few other YA books of its genre, enough for me to now see how sensational it really was for the YA market. It wasn’t the only revolutionary series but this one does end up being the bloodbath it promises from its premise.
I don’t really have to give a synopsis, do I? How Katniss Everdeen of District 12 volunteers for her little sister when her one slip out of thousands gets picked as female tribute for the 74th annual Hunger Games? How the male tribute Peeta Mellark gets picked and declares his crush the night before the start? How Katniss doesn’t want to kill but has to in order to survive and return to Prim and her cousin Gale, despite the fact that would mean this sweet little District 11 girl, Rue, would have to die too, along with the 22 others? No? Okay.
The thing I complained about the most in my original review was the writing. I had felt like Katniss as a narrator was not quite displaying as much panic and anger as she could’ve, and I felt like the cliffhangers before each next part, “Because she came here with me” and “I call out Peeta’s name” were a little cheesy. And when Katniss encounters Peeta after it’s revealed they both could survive the games, she insists he close his eyes again so she can observe him completely invisible, rather than leaping into his arms. But looking back, I was overly harsh on the book towards those little things. I didn’t actually technically read this book; in 8th grade, our librarian read it to us, but not for a class. The movie was just coming out and in Library class on Day 2’s we would read about one or two chapters. It was actually an educational and fun experience. And honestly, there are loads of other books, maybe even some I liked, that would’ve been really boring having them being read to me over the course of several months.
Something I think The Hunger Games actually does very right, because of how often I now look back on it, is its pacing. Almost half of the book goes by before the games, but not more than half. This makes the first half long enough for us to get to be alongside Katniss in her usual environment long enough to care about her and see her as not just another competitor, narrator or not. Also, it doesn’t go on so long that we feel hoodwinked by the title. There’s more than enough time as well for the numbers of participants to die off realistically slowly and one-at-a-time. Yes, there’s the famous Bloodbath, but having four tributes left in the middle of the game would have been a weak story, and there are a fair amount of authors that would’ve done that to rush it.
I guess my rundown is that I was way too punishing on The Hunger Games when I reviewed it at 15. While I still think there could’ve been more fear displayed through Katniss’s words, Suzanne Collins utilized the premise very nicely. The more the years go by and we get more and more young-adult books, it’s easy to see how significant this book was on all of these.
If you like this, I’d try: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
I’ve never been intrigued by this series, but it was interesting to ready how significantly your opinion changed over time. Great review!
Thanks a ton for your comment! And it’s been so fascinating for me too how different my opinion got of the book and the series over time. There are a few other books and movies I’ve had drastic changes of heart over, but The Hunger Games would have to be the most significant. 🙂
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