Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins


Genre : Dystopia, Young Adults

Series : The Hunger Games : The Hunger Games

American publisher : Scholastic Press : 17,99$

English publisher : Scholastic : 6,99£

Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality show is taking place? Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule : kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister's place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

What I think

I had seen this book on Word for Teens a long time ago, and her review made me think of Battle Royale by Koushoun Takami. I've read only good reviews on this book, I have nothing against it, but I'm surprised that no one made a link with Battle Royale, and it is so obvious. After all, maybe no one has read it yet either. But I want to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's. The Hunger Games has nothing original in the plot. But it is well treated.

America is divided into 12 districts plus The Capitole. The 12 districts (they were 13, but there was a rebellion, and the 13th has disappeared and everyone is punished) are hungry. There are rules, these rules make the people of these district hungry, and they have to work hard for the glory of The Capitol.

Each year, when the harvest comes, a kind of national holiday, a game starts, The Hunger Games. Twelve girls and twelve boys, a pair of each district will be chosen hapharzardly to participate. Well "hapharzardly" is not really the word because a candidate can put his/her name several times in the ball in exchange of food.

These 24 candidates are prepared, and launched in an arena where the hung will begin and will go on until there is only one remaining. The winner will come back to his /her district where (s)he will live in a beautiful big house and (s)he and his/her family will have anything they want. And it will permits to feed their district for a whole year.

During the games (several weeks), the villagers of each district will watch the games, at home or on big screens.

When Prim's name, Katniss's little sister, is draw from the ball, Katniss takes her place. She's paired up with Peeta, a boy who gave her bread when she was little. They will be placed in the hands of designers and stylists who'll try to give them an advantage. They'll have a special training to learn how to survive in the arena and gain the public's preference. But some candidates have a few advantages because they were chosen by their district to participate, so they've been training for a long time.

I won't tell you everything... but if you really want to you can read further...


I liked this book, but I'm disappointed, because Suzanne Collins didn't bring anything new. The Hunger Games is a sweet version of Battle Royale on every level. I say "sweet" because where Takami pushes things to their extreme, Suzanne Collins were overcautious. I'll explain what I mean. Suzanne Collins took everything to Takami, the arena, the plots of Th Capitol to gather the candidates and have some action, and many other things. The game is exactly the same. But Takami went farther, because he developed all the characters, their hopes in life, and of course he created a system of alliances and treason, some characters killed their best friends willingly or not. So Suzanne Collins, with The Hunger Games, gives us a Candy-version remakes. Katniss finds an ally in Rue, but she's killed. Katniss takes her revenge, and she'll be saved in turn by Rue's partner. Then The Capitol announces that if two of the same district survive, they'll be declared winners together. Of course the goal was to make the love story between Katniss and Peeta last longer (because Peeta declares his undying love for Katniss before they entered the arena) and from this point, the end is clear. We know how it will end. And I was not surprised in the end when The Capitol told them that the new rule was cancelled.

In The Hunger Games, we don't find the true human nature. There is no treason, Katniss doesn't have to face a friend, like Peeta or Rue. That's why I said that Takami pushed things to their extreme and he made them more realistic. He really showed the true nature of human beings, this egoistic nature when survival instinct takes its toll, and there's no best friend anymore, nor alliances, everyman for himself!

Even the end, Collins took it to BR, because Katniss and Peeta win the games together, but find themselves enemies of The Capitol. In BR, Shuya and Noriko become fugitives because they escaped the games.

Where Suzanne Collins tried to make her own recipe is with the Muttations, but I really laughed in the end, with these wolves (kind of) which are in fact the deceased candidates. It is difficult to believe, but there is no explanation on the subject. I hope we'll find out in the other books, otherwise I think it's a shame to tell us about it without development.

Katniss is the main character, we know her from the begining, but I didn't manage to attach myself to her, nor Peeta.

The Hunger Games didn't make me really react, because there's no surprise, the events are predictable.

Well, don't think I didn't like the book, that's not the case. I spent a good time reading it, and I want to read the other books too. But I had to choose, I'd choose Battle Royale without hesitation. It made me cry from the first pages. And I advise you to read it too, especially if you liked The Hunger Games, because you'll see the difference.

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