Sunday, October 07, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games

A few nights back, I finish some hacking at 2am and for the life of me, can't get to sleep. I decide that listening to an audio book might be just the thing to relax me and get me to drift off to dreamland. I bring up OverDrive and start browsing my local library's collection. I notice The Hunger Games, and having seen the trailer for the movie, decide to give it a try.

The effort is a flop. At 3am, I'm still wide awake, more or less riveted to the story.

Part of me wishes I could scoff at this book and criticize it for being popular trash. Alas, I can't. I have to admit (though the anit-mainstream hipster wanna be in me doesn't), it was a very good read.

I like how the characters surprised me with their unexpected strengths. I like the action. I liked the problem solving. I liked the Boy Scout / Wilderness Survival skills on display I liked the mental games that a dystopia causes you to play (how would I survive? How can a society treat it's population so terribly, yet continue to exist?). I could have done without some of the 14 year old girl emotional schmaltz, but given all the other pleasant parts of this book, I can forgive the author (and oh yeah, it's written for teenagers).

In some ways (and I'm sure this is heretical to say), I found myself enjoying this book much like I did Dune. The characters are likable, the adventures solid, and the action non-stop.

I can see how some might be concerned about letting kids read this book. Topics and issues covered are quite adult. I certainly wouldn't want our 7 year old to have anything to do with this. When he's deep into his teens, I'm all for having him read it, and then we can have a spirited discussion about how dystopias can manage to continue and what his strategy may have been in The Games.

All in all, a great read.

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