The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (4 August)

What with the sequel coming out soon, I figured I ought to read this before I got ridiculously spoiled for it. But I guess I probably wouldn’t have, anyway, since the whole novel is fairly predictable.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose, and Collins does a good job of taking the predictable things and sort of letting them happen and moving on quickly. Except for the love story, which I disliked immensely — not this one in particular, just that there was a love story at all — and if that’s what the sequel’s all about, you can count me out right now. Seriously.

For those who have not hopped on this particular bandwagon, here’s the deal: Katniss Everdeen lives in a world where The Man keeps his subjects down by a) dividing them into districts with no interaction between them and b) forcing two teenagers from each district to compete every year in the eponymous tournament. The last person standing wins and gets to live a life of relative luxury (not hard in the slums these districts are) for ever and earns some luxury for his/her district for the year. When Katniss’s little sister gets her name picked out of the hopper, Katniss quickly volunteers to go in her place, even though Katniss certainly would not have wanted to go otherwise. She and her new rival, Peeta, go off to the Capitol and fight to the death in a specially tricked-out arena full of woods and rivers but also fireballs and mutated wasps.

I quite liked the dystopian premise here for its cruel ingenuity. The districts have to give up two children each year to fight, but even if one wins the other must lose, so there’s only a bittersweet joy if there is a winner. Good stuff. And the actual battling in the arena was really well done.

For all I say about predictability, there are a couple of things that happened in the beginning of the novel that made me go, “Oh, red flag, that’s important later, yes it is,” but then they didn’t pay off AT ALL in the end. I don’t know if they’ll be important in the next book or what, but they were really frustrating in this one.

Rating: 8/10

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