A Book Review – sort of

I just finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Now, there are many reviews out there of this book, I’m sure, and I’m very much behind the times as this is my first time to read the book.  This is not exactly a book review, per se, so much as a few thoughts that I have about it.

I’ll try not to share spoilers, for those of you who might want to read it and are even more behind the times than me.  🙂

My first reaction on the first page was “Wow, this is in first-person present tense.”  This is significant because most books are third-person (of varying knowledge levels) and past tense.  It works, though, since the best person to tell the story is the main character, and the present tense makes it more immediate.

Another thing I noticed were the commas, or perhaps a lack thereof.  I’ve discussed in the past how commas can be optional, and I prefer to use more rather than less, so this is not terrible.  There were also occasional sentences that would require a second read on my part, because they were written as people speak, not as they write.  Namely, there were a lot of fragments.  Again, this worked, as the general feeling of the book was that the main character was telling you the story.  It’s okay for it to be written as if spoken, especially since it came across not as a lack of technique but as a carefully thought-out choice.

I know, you’re thinking, “Okay, Leigh, enough with the technical writing stuff.  What about the plot?  The characters?”  Unlike technique, these are more subjective and personal-opinion related.  Plus, I don’t want to spoil it!  That said, here are a couple quick reactions.

I like the main character, and I think that all of the key players are well-created.  There’s a couple that I would have liked to know a bit more about, but that’s always the case in a novel with a large cast.  Most importantly to me, I cared about what happened to the characters.  This is what drives me through a book.

The plot concept is interesting while at the same time gruesome.  (Minor spoiler alert, but most of the following is learned early on.)  I don’t know how I feel about a country that finds it entertaining to pit 24 randomly chosen boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18 against each other in a fight to the death.  The concept (kids battling it out) was disturbing enough before I started reading the book; add to it that this is basically their equivalent of reality TV and it’s a lot disturbing.  I think this is where the value of first-person from a character you care about comes in.  This isn’t you enjoying the same gruesome spectator role as the viewers in the novel.   This is you accompanying a girl as she tries to survive the spectacle.  As a reader, the emotion involved in those two viewpoints are very different.  You can be disgusted by the concept without feeling disgusted at yourself.

So there are my initial reactions to reading The Hunger Games.  I’m ready for the next book (it’s a trilogy, you know) which is a good sign.  It means I’m still attached to the characters and I care about what happens to them.

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