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The Hunger Games Trilogy


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#1 Werthead

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 02:56 PM

Book 1: The Hunger Games

Over a century from now, North America is a land ravaged by floods and war. Out of the ashes a new nation, Panem, has emerged, consisting of the glorious city known as the Capitol and twelve outlying districts which only exist to provide the Capitol with resources (a thirteenth district was destroyed in a rebellion three-quarters of a century ago). To keep the people in line, the government enforces the Hunger Games, a reality TV show where twenty-four teenage boys and girls must fight one another for survival in a game of wits and strength.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take the place of her sister when she is selected for the Games. Transported to a hostile wilderness, Katniss must use every bit of her cunning and her training as a hunter to prevail.

The Hunger Games is the first book in the trilogy of the same name. First published in 2008, it has become a hugely successful novel, spawning two sequels and a forthcoming movie adaptation, and has won plaudits from both younger readers and adults alike (Stephen King is a noted fan).

The premise is unoriginal but Collins nevertheless executes it reasonably well. This is a brisk read where Collins develops the plot and delivers action beats with skill, but not at the expense of characterisation (though, with only two characters of note to develop, this isn't as challenging as it could be). Katniss is an intriguing but more interesting is the way that Collins establishes the motivation and character of Peeta, Katniss's sometimes-ally in the games, since we only see him through Katniss's eyes. Characters outside these two are less well-developed, however.

Collins also holds back on exploring the full savagery of the games, perhaps understandably given the target audience. Still, there is the feeling that we more hear about how horrible the games are rather than seeing them in full flow (one tense moment involving mutated dogs aside). In addition, we know very little about the other contestants. A couple get some nice moments in the sun so we feel bad when they die, but generally the focus of the game itself is the mental battle of wills and PR that Katniss and Peeta are playing with the people running the game. This is surprising and considerably more difficult than just showing the contestants offing one another, since this struggle can only by necessity be depicted through one side, since we only have Katniss's POV, so we, like her, can only guess what the people in the Capitol are up to. To Collins' credit she pulls it off, and works in a couple of interesting themes about reality TV, bloodsports, PR and marketing into the bargain.

The book does have a potential problem in that it does come off very much like a Battle Royale-lite. Whilst that's not a problem if you've never read or seen Battle Royale, if you have then the weaknesses of The Hunger Games become slightly more apparent. Most notably, whilst Collins' Games are cruel, they don't match the shocking harshness that Royale achieves by simply having all the contestants be in the same school year, meaning they've known one another for years before having to kill one another. In that sense, Koushan Takami scores higher with some of the things he wants to say about youth and teenager-hood being a Darwinian struggle for survival. At the same time, the two works, whilst stemming from the same basic idea, are aimed in rather different directions and Takami benefits from a much greater word-count and a more adult audience to work with, so comparisons between the two are fair only up to a point.

Moving on from that, The Hunger Games (****) is a fast-paced, enjoyable read with some interesting (if hardly revelatory) things to say about celebrity and PR, not to mention a counter-intuitive approach to the inevitable romance story, but suffers a little from the well-mined premise and patchy characterisation. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.



#2 SkynJay

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 03:04 PM

Read it, loved it, then watchef te sequels go downhill. But YA that adults can enjoy is always good.

How is there not a thread on it already?

#3 Balefont

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 03:08 PM

Excellent.

Also, the Big Brother and dystopian themes are big draws - particularly for the teen readers with whom I've discussed the books. The teens I've spoken with don't much mention the romance or celebrity of Katniss but attach more to her fighting spirit and her justifications to go against authority.

#4 GuybrushThreepwood

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 03:23 PM

The first one was decent. A bit derivative, but solidly written and a nice YA dystopia.

The second one was basically the first one all over again. Really unnecessary, and a huge step down from the first.

The third one was terrible.

#5 Blaine

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 03:50 PM

Loved the first one to pieces. The second two weren't great, but they weren't terrible to me. They were just a pretty big let down after the promise of that first novel.

All in all, though, I thought Collins did a remarkable job of world-building in that first book, especially for YA fiction.

We've had a few threads about the series, the last one was mostly an anticipation of Mockingjay's release and a ton of disappointment with the book itself after release.

Edited by Blaine, 04 May 2011 - 03:53 PM.


#6 Tormund Ukrainesbane

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 03:53 PM

I read the first one. It was alright, but didn't inspire me to read the sequels much. The premise is something that has been done to death as well.

#7 Jabbywocker

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 04:16 PM

I enjoyed the first book, nothing inspiring, but it was a fun and fast read. Then I read this Let's Read and... well it certainly gave me another perspective on the book.

YA fiction should just be scarfed down in one bite. Taking your time and analyzing it leads to many a head ache.

#8 Arbrigo Goldes

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 06:02 PM

The first one was decent. A bit derivative, but solidly written and a nice YA dystopia.

The second one was basically the first one all over again. Really unnecessary, and a huge step down from the first.

The third one was terrible.

This. I would categorize the three books as pretty good, bad, and awful. I'm ok with the lack of originality in the premise because I liked the worldbuilding and I felt emotionally connected to the characters, but by the time the third book came around, I was shocked by how little I cared about anybody anymore.

#9 Phostopheles

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 06:24 PM

True story:

I went back home over spring break and met up with an old high school friend of mine at a local mall. While we were waiting for some other guys to get there, we hung out in the bookstore. I told him he should read Game of Thrones. He told me I should read Hunger Games. So we pulled copies off the shelves and each read the first few pages while we waited.

Excluding the fact that the prose was tailored to young adults, I found the premise okay (if uninspired). If I ever remember to search for a copy at Bookmans I'll grab it. I can afford to spend an hour or two to catch up on what the kiddies are reading nowadays, though my expectations are pretty low after Twilight.

#10 Spaceman Hobbes

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 06:26 PM

I loved the first one. Just because something isn't original doesn't mean I can't enjoy it. I actually liked it enough that I went a spoiled myself on the sequels(which would only happen with YA). Judging on the summaries I read, and the reactions on here to books two and three I think I dodged a bullet by not reading the other too.

#11 SkynJay

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 09:17 PM

I enjoyed the first book, nothing inspiring, but it was a fun and fast read. Then I read this Let's Read and... well it certainly gave me another perspective on the book.

YA fiction should just be scarfed down in one bite. Taking your time and analyzing it leads to many a head ache.


Damn that was hard to read. Thanks for the link though, that was some fun.

And yes, you dodged a bullet. The second book was the SAME BOOK, in different terrain. And Mockingjay made the characters so unlikeable I just stopped caring.

Someday I would like to read Battleroyal as well. Does it translate over well?

Edited by SkynJay, 04 May 2011 - 09:18 PM.


#12 Teng Ai Hui

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 12:38 AM

My feelings match up with most of the other opinions. I highly enjoyed the first book. The second book was a retread of the first, but it was still enjoyable. The third was annonying. I hated the travelogue portion of it. Also, I was unaffected by the deaths of 2 characters toward the end, whereas in The Hunger Games there was one death that deeply moved me.

#13 mashiara

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 01:29 AM

The first one was decent. A bit derivative, but solidly written and a nice YA dystopia.

The second one was basically the first one all over again. Really unnecessary, and a huge step down from the first.

The third one was terrible.


This.

I would categorize the three books as pretty good, bad, and awful. I'm ok with the lack of originality in the premise because I liked the worldbuilding and I felt emotionally connected to the characters, but by the time the third book came around, I was shocked by how little I cared about anybody anymore.


And this. It seems to be pretty unanimous in this thread, almost everybody loved the first book and then it went downhill from there. That's exactly how I felt about them as well. I wouldn't call the second one bad, but it certainly wasn't nearly as good and it felt very repetitive. The third one, I really didn't care about it at all.

#14 Alytha

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 01:43 AM

I quite liked the first one, although neither totalitarian regimes nor TV-shows involving people being hunted to death are unique. The worldbuilding is decent and the characters are engaging enough.
From what I've read here, I don't think I want to get the other two though.

#15 Werthead

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 04:27 AM

Someday I would like to read Battleroyal as well. Does it translate over well?


It was reasonably effective, though some Japanese and English speakers I know have said that the translation didn't really capture the desperation and tension of the original. I've heard rumours that there might be a fresh translation, possibly of the revised second edition of the novel (currently only available in Japan).

I've also heard the opinion that people who've seen the movie first (like I had) enjoyed the novel more, although I'm not sure about that. There was quite some time between me seeing the film and reading the book, and the two do go in different directions as the story proceeds (one of the main characters in the movie is completely absent from the book, whilst the book is able to characterise all 40 of the players with some skill whilst the movie doesn't have the time to visit more than a third or so of them in depth).

One of the best things about The Hunger Games and the forthcoming movie is that it seems to have killed all notions of an Americanised Battle Royale remake stone dead, which is something to be grateful for.

#16 automne

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 04:48 AM

I loved the first book, thought the second was OK and the third a huge letdown. Still, I highly recommend the trilogy, IMO it is one the best for Young (and not so young) Adults.
BTW, there was a previous thread
here


#17 Gargantuanjon Old Chap

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 08:08 AM

I confess, I couldn't get through it. Two reasons

First person, single POV is becoming too egoistic for my tastes.
Present tense just throws me off a cliff. I think I'm just too stuck in my ways on this one.

Edited by Gargantuanjon Old Chap, 05 May 2011 - 08:10 AM.


#18 Stego

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 09:44 AM

Love, love, love the first two. The third was disappointing, but readable.

I will respectfully add that I truly get annoyed when people get so blindingly conservative in their ways that the tense or person the story is written in matters in the least bit. Would these folks have their head explode if they read truly experimental fiction? Gah.

Judge the merit of the story. Leave your personal hangups out of it.



(ETA: Also, why a new thread about these now?)

Edited by Stego, 05 May 2011 - 09:45 AM.


#19 Gargantuanjon Old Chap

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 11:41 AM

I will respectfully add that I truly get annoyed when people get so blindingly conservative in their ways that the tense or person the story is written in matters in the least bit. Would these folks have their head explode if they read truly experimental fiction? Gah.

Judge the merit of the story. Leave your personal hangups out of it.


I wouldn't say it's a bad book, certainly not without actually finishing it. Present tense just makes it difficult for me to get through, and I have so much to read, I'd rather drop it than continue.

#20 Astra

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 10:12 AM

I read the trilogy a few months ago.
The first book was good. The second book was good too. The third book was the best. Very good and fitting ending.
Loved the series.