Review can also be found on my blog here
.Why I Read It:
I actually read this back in 2010 because I had been hearing mad-hype for this series (especially with the release of Mockingjay looming at that time) and just needed to know what the deal was. To be completely honest, I wasn't blown away. I mean, I *liked* it well enough, but I wasn't chomping at the bit to read the sequel, and I ultimately didn't (until recently). What DID make me pick this series back up was I went to go to see the movie adaptation on opening night. I wasn't expecting to love the movie because of my feelings for the book, but I ended up liking it so much more! It made me need to know what happened in Catching Fire and Mockingjay, but I felt a re-read of this first installment was in order.
Okay, so I actually read this back at the end of March and it's now nearing the end of April (stupid school, keeping my so busy) so this review is probably going to be lacking. Actually, I think I'm just going to review this like I did for The Monstrumologist
, in that I'm going to make a list of Pros and Cons to map out my thoughts. Just makes things easier.
- This is an easy, and fast-paced read. The 370+ pages fly by and even though this book has its faults, it's a real page-turner.
- I loved how this was a commentary on reality televsion. [info]calico_reaction talks about this in her review quite in depth, and I agree with everything she said: we get so attached to people we watch on reality television shows, that the whole concept of the Hunger Games as a blown-out-proportion reality show just made so much sense. And the whole idea of the sponsors and having to sell your personality, and to tweak it for the cameras accordingly, to the people was really smart, I thought.
- The ending. It's pretty obvious from the get-go that Katniss is going to survive, but the move she pulls on the Capitol was awesome.
- I actually like how Collins handled the romance. It never takes precedence of the Games, and I liked how level-headed Katniss was about it most of the time, such as using the romance angle developed between her and Peeta to get them sponsors to save their lives. And I like that the thought of liking him back never really crosses her mind (it does at times, kind of briefly, but it's never really a serious consideration), because she honestly has much more pressing matters on her mind, like uhh, her LIFE. I say that because so many YAs are so dependent on the romance angle to make things interesting, and I can't help but wonder if had this very same story been in someone else's hands, if they would have made Peeta and Katniss end up together by the end of this first installment.
- This story is told from Katniss's first person POV in the present tense and I don't think Collins has really pulled it off. Despite it being told in the present tense, it still feels we're being told this story by Katniss after the fact. She's an emotionally distant character, so whenever she's talking about how she FEELS in any given scene, I never felt like her emotions were coming from HER -- it felt like she looking at herself from outside herself and then telling us her reactions/thoughts/feelings/etc. I hope that makes some kind of sense.
- Being stuck in Katniss's head drove me crazy sometimes. Some of the things she thought actually made me mad (like throwing away the bread Peeta's father gives her -- what the hell?) and I understand why she was so mistrustful of everyone, but friiiggg, I wish she had been slightly more friendly.
- I'm still on the fence about Katniss. I love a lot of things about her: she loves her family, even if her relationship with her mother is tenuous, but I loved her and Prim, and her alliance with Rue. But because of the emotional distance that I mentioned earlier, I had a hard time warming up to her. I personally preferred the Katniss from the movie adaptation -- there was a much better balance of toughness and vulnerability there, I found. I don't know what how fair it is to compare the book and the movie here, but it coloured my opinion so I feel it's worth mentioning. I definitely don't DISLIKE Katniss though. She's by no means a bad character.
- I'm on the fence about Katniss's involvement in the killing that goes on in the Games. Katniss never really has to face any morally ambiguous choices in regards to who she kills and I think it's too bad that Collins didn't jump on that. At the same time however, I found myself admiring how Katniss played the Games and how she stayed true to herself, which is kind of a running theme throughout the entire series. So on the one hand, it felt like Collins was playing it safe, but on the other hand, it didn't feel super contrived to me, and it actually made me like Katniss's character more. I'm kind of torn.Final Verdict:
I had some issues with this book (though my main issue was with the narrative voice) but it was an overall addictive and fast read. I loved the commentary on reality tv because it rang so true with how we watch reality tv NOW, and I like how Collins handled the romance (or the lack thereof I guess). I never totally warmed up to Katniss's character, and I was kind of iffy about the lack of moral ambiguity presented here, because the novel could have been rife with it, but those things never made me DISLIKE the novel. It was a lot of fun and I'm glad I re-read it.