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The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games  - Suzanne  Collins

I was somewhat hesitant about giving this book a try. It was recommended to me by several acquaintances, co-workers, friends and family members, and two of the enthusiasts were people whose reading tastes often differ significantly from my own. Nevertheless, three of the five are quite dependable kindred spirits on the literary front, so I decided to dive in. After all, one of the other reliable sources let me borrow it via Nook for free, so I had nothing to lose except time. :)

I mention that because I can now see why this book appeals to such a wide cross-section of readers. I don't think I've turned pages like this since Preston and Child's Relic -- Collins' characters are in constant danger; death could come from anywhere. There's nothing leisurely about The Hunger Games: it's tense and suspenseful enough to keep most readers engaged long past their bedtimes.

I was a bit surprised to learn that it's already being taught in schools. I'd be interested in seeing a study guide, because I don't feel there are a lot of layers and nuances in the narrative that are likely to be missed: I don't think I'd glean much more from a second or third reading: most of it is right there on the surface. I'm not saying that's a bad thing--I did enjoy the book--but I think many adult readers will get the "blossoms cut down in their prime/where have all the flowers gone" message of characters being named after flowers (Katniss, Primrose, Rue, even Buttercup; Katniss "blooms" in the woods). Some will catch that vox is Latin for voice, thus Avox could be interpreted as "sans voice," but you don't need to know that to realize they've been silenced. The references to Rome are billboard-sized, and anyone who's aware of the existence of reality television is likely to catch the television-as-colosseum metaphor. I could cite several other things, but my point is that it's very accessible. Readers who like to challenge themselves by analyzing themes and symbols won't need to invest a great deal of time in close scrutiny, because what's there is fairly obvious. The Hunger Games is not particularly subtle. :)

Despite its lack of understatement, I found The Hunger Games to be an interesting and compelling tale of surviving a system where the haves control and oppress the have-nots, and I look forward to seeing a few mysteries explained in the second and third books in the trilogy. I've already started Catching Fire.