By now most people are probably familiar with Suzanne Collins Hunger Games novels, and since I’m not exactly a fan of the movies I put off reading these books for a long, long time. However, I have always been a firm believer that novels can convey much more depth, detail and emotion than a feature film, and as such I have finally bitten the bullet and chosen to read these novels.
For those not already familiar with the story, the Hunger Games is a savage entertainment event hosted by a totalitarian Capitol, in which 24 tributes, one male and one female from each of the twelve outlying districts, are chosen by a form of lottery to compete against each other inside an arena until only one of them remains alive.
As already mentioned I watched the film, long before embarking on this novel, and my main gripe with the movie was that it took a very long time to reach the crux of the story, instead choosing to focus more on all of the boring background preparations that led to the event itself. Much to my immense irritation the book is even worse, as over a third of the entire novel is taken up by these same events.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the whole novel is told entirely from Katniss Everdeen’s frame of reference alone. We are never formally introduced to any of the other competitors, or provided with much real information on them, including their names, and their deaths are just glossed over, as if they are pointless and irrelevant side-notes. As a reader we are given nothing to warm us to the other tributes, and as such we don’t really care much what happens to anyone except for Katniss. And maybe Peeta, thanks to the annoyingly fake romance that blooms between them.
Once again however, I find myself shaking my head at this crazy insistence that a good dramatic love story, is the best, and possibly fastest way to a great novel. Because, honestly, it’s really not. I don’t want to read The Hunger Games for its sappy romance, I want to enjoy it for the tense and exciting action. I want to care about the characters, I want to root for an unlikely winner, to bite my nails with the anticipation of what mayhem will happen next.
Unfortunately, The Hunger Games, aside from being a blatant, toned-down rip-off of the Japanese Battle Royale, is an extremely long-winded and incredibly boring romance novel, in which very little of relevance actually happens. Although slightly better than the film, at just 2 out of 5 stars I really couldn’t wait for this overly stretched out story to end, and in my opinion it should have ended with just one winner.