Friday, June 29, 2012

The Hunger Games

It's hard not to like The Hunger Games.  It is a page-turner of a tale, loaded with action.  Katniss is a pretty likable main character, and even the minor characters carry their weight in the book.  If you are a character-driven reader or a plot-driven reader, it's hard to complain about The Hunger Games.

The same goes, of course, if you are a reader more interested in social critique.  The Hunger Games shares something in common with weightier books such as Infinite Jest, where the notion of entertaining ourselves to death comes under fire.  In The Hunger Games, the idea of a few wealthy individuals getting their thrills out of the hardships of the world's downtrodden is foregrounded.  If it isn't a message built to make those of us in a consumer-driven society think, I don't know what is.  (There's some irony, of course, in the typical entertainment-industry hype that's come to surround the book and film itself.)

I suppose if I had to point out a weakness in The Hunger Games, it would be the writing. While the story is gripping and the prose moves it along at a good pace, there were several spots in the book that I felt the writing not smooth.  And while I can see why both first person and present tense were the chosen modes of storytelling here, I did think that these techniques were not particularly well executed (especially the present tense).  Other complaints I would make about the writing might have more to do with stylistic choices, as I'm not a big fan of dropping conjunctions in order to make for fast-paced prose.  I'd rather see that done with real economy of language than with lazy shortcuts.

All in all, though, The Hunger Games is a fun read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

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