Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Reviewed by Yau Chun Shin (3H1)
If you had to kill twenty-three people, one of whom loves you deeply, to survive, would you do it? That is the quandary that sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen faces in the young-adult science fiction novel The Hunger Games.
The book is set in a dystopian world ruthlessly dictated by the government, known as the Capitol. As punishment for a failed uprising, it has instituted an event, where two tributes from twelve districts will be selected and pitted against each other in a fight to the death. When Katniss’s sister is chosen, she volunteers herself.
The Hunger Games is written in the present tense, through the eyes of Katniss. This creates a sense of immediacy, making it all the more engrossing. Detailed, vivid descriptions of Collins’ futuristic world immediately immerses the reader in Katniss’ life-and-death struggle. The plot is exciting and well-paced, focusing as much on Katniss’s reactions and emotions as on the action in the arena.
A pity, then, that the novel does not exploit its rich allegorical potential. It sacrifices the possible parallels with real-life situations for its engaging plot and fast pace. Given the very nature of the subject at hand, this is probably the more sensible thing to do, but the novel would be altogether more complete if it were able to draw parallels between the Capitol and current authoritarian governments. The author probably did not want to infuse her political leanings into an eminently readable adolescent novel.
Overall, though, The Hunger Games is a well-rounded book. What it lacks in allegorical content, it more than makes up for in its excellent plot and vivid descriptions. The development of characters within the book is also satisfying, exploring the effects of the violence on minor characters as well as Katniss. A great read.