Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

December 16, 2013 Reviews 4 ★★★

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #1
Published by Scholastic Press on September 14, 2008
Pages: 374
Format: Paperback
My rating: three-stars
Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV 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.

I want to preface this review by saying this was a re-read for me. I first read The Hunger Games trilogy about three years ago. I HATED them when I first read them. If I had to rank them from the first go-around, I’d say that my favorite was Mockingjay, second favorite was The Hunger Games and least favorite was Catching Fire. So I plowed through them, didn’t enjoy them and moved on. I figured I was done with them and would never think about them again.

And then The Hunger Games movie came out and curiosity got the best of me. I watched the movie when it first came to DVD and LOVED it. Then, about two weeks ago, I saw Catching Fire in theaters and SERIOUSLY loved it. It made me want to re-read the trilogy because I thought, maybe now that I’ve seen and loved two of the movies and I can picture the cast when I read, I might enjoy them more – especially since Jennifer Lawrence is epic as Katniss.

Unfortunately, that’s totally not the case.

The writing was completely flat and boring, first of all. And I felt completely detached from the characters, especially Katniss. I know she views the Games as a death sentence, so she’s not going to be all chipper and cheerful and animated – she’s more like a zombie, numbed to what’s going on around her – but still. She was flat, the writing was flat and I couldn’t connect with her. As opposed to Movie Katniss, whom I felt for, cared for and cried for.

There are a bunch of scenes – the reaping when Katniss volunteers, Katniss saying her good-byes to her family and Gale, Rue’s death, the scene with Thresh and Katniss – that made me ugly cry when I watched the movie. But the book… I know I’m going to over-use this word in this review, but it was all flat. And I felt completely detached (another word I’ll likely over-use).

The movie definitely stayed true to the book. But the movie was better – And I’m a complete book nerd who almost always loves the book better, so that’s definitely saying something. Most of the changes from book-to-movie seem to have involved shortening some of the more drawn-out moments – Changes that all seem to make a lot of sense, in my opinion. I think the big thing is this: The actors brought these characters to life and made them amazing. Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci and Lenny Kravitz are my absolute favorite actors in the movie and they made their characters shine. They did wonderful jobs and they definitely made the movie what it was. Because in the book? I really don’t give a crap about any of the characters. Again.. Flat and detached.

There was one scene in the book, at the end of Rue’s burial, that was left out of the movie. I understand why, but it was an amazing scene – one of the few I truly loved and felt emotion for – and I’m kind of sad it didn’t make it to the big screen.

You guys can get ready to throw the tomatoes now.. Cause the next thing I need to discuss? The love interests. Umm.. I don’t ship Katniss with Gale OR Peeta. I don’t like either guy that much – in the book OR the movie. They’re flat and I see them both as friends, not boyfriends. I do love that Suzanne Collins DIDN’T focus on the love interests and this WASN’T a love triangle. That makes it unique from a lot of popular young adults franchises. But still. I didn’t care about either guy or who Katniss ended up with or what any of it meant. And book Peeta is a complete bore.

On that same train of thought.. The cave scene with Katniss and Peeta totally dragged. I like the way it was shortened in the movie and I like how it was handled in the movie. Honestly, the whole third part of the book (For those who don’t know, the book is divided into three sections) was boring for me. I remember it being boring the first time I read the book, so I was dreading it to begin with. I tried to remain neutral (as I did with the entire re-read), but it sucked just as bad on the second go-around.

Overall, I’m not sorry I re-read it. It was nice reading it on my own terms (the first time I read the books, my brother practically forced them upon my mom and I, right around the holidays. And those of you who know me, know that I hate being forced to read things). It did have a handful of moments that were enjoyable, and maybe two scenes that did make me cry. But I absolutely, 100% prefer the movie to the book.

4 Responses to “Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins”

  1. Jessica@ReviewsAbound

    YES YES YES. I agree with almost everything here. I’ve also been contemplating re-reading the series now that I’ve loved the movies. Catching Fire was my favorite of the books (though I admit I only read a few chapters of Mockingjay), and I was so skeptical about the movie(s), but I thought they both were FANTASTIC.

    Book Katniss though? Don’t like her at all. Same with Gale and Peeta. Originally I was leaning towards Gale, but then that started to fall away. I say that I’ve always loved Haymitch, Cinna, Finnick, and even Johanna, but I feel like, as you said, I said it based on the movie. In the movie, they really brought the characters to life and made me love them? In the books? Not so much. I would argue that I STILL don’t like Katniss, movie or not, but at least I like her a tiny bit better in the movies.

    But I’m thinking I’ll eventually re-read at least Catching Fire and compare it like you did here.

    Great review, Meredith!

    • Meredith

      Woohoo! Glad I’m not alone in my opinions! I definitely recommend re-reading them, especially if you love the movies. I’m not saying you’ll love the books more now (cause so far, I don’t) but it’s fun to compare the books to the movies!

      I love Jennifer Lawrence, so in turn, I love movie Katniss. Book Katniss is blah! The actors were all amazing, seriously.

      Yess, do it! I still need to read Catching Fire and Mockingjay again, but I have a few review books I need to get to first!

    • Meredith

      Oh boy, I know! :( My re-reading of them got interrupted and I’m not sure if I care about finishing.. I sort of want to, since I LOVED the Catching Fire movie. And I don’t remember a lot from MockingJay, so maybe I’ll wait and read that one closer to the movie release.

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