Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hunger Games

This was a great book and a great series.  There have been plenty of books written about dystopian futures that contain some kind of 'death game' where participants battle traps, obstacles and/or each other and die messily for the entertainment of the masses.  I read Stephen King's (written as Bachman) Running Man when I was a teenager and really liked it but The Hunger Games is better.  The thing I really enjoyed about it most of all is that the main character, Katniss, is absolutely believable.  She isn't some superhero intent on toppling the Evil Regime by herself and she isn't the Great Leader who will save the people.  Instead she is just a person, one with some notable talents for sure, but she acts like a sixteen year old would be expected to act in the sorts of insane situations she gets into:  She goes crazy, makes bad decisions, hurts people, does a few really clever things and makes a mess of her relationships.  Just like with George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire the thing that draws me to this series is the fact that the people involved are complicated, interesting and flawed. In short they are people, rather than just random members of Team Good or Team Bad.

Unlike Martin's books though this series is a fast read.  A couple hundred pages per book and three books makes for a relatively quick run through but the reader really does get everything they need to follow the story.  Thankfully although the series is set in the future 100+ years the author never gets mired down in tech and explanations of the physics required for the various inventions and world changes that have occurred.  There is high tech stuff but we only learn as much as Katniss learns - and since she begins and remains pretty much a hunter/gatherer that ends up not being very much aside from "which button do I press to make it work?"  I like SciFi and I really appreciate authors who can use a setting with noticeably advanced technology compared to our own without worrying about physics since the physics discussions always start and end with baloney and only serve to break immersion.  I don't care how people make a force field or a hand held energy weapon, I just want to know that people bounce off the first and die when hit by the second.

Not to say the series is perfect.  There are a few discussions between characters that make little sense, in particular the ones that centre around breeding population sizes, but thankfully all the lapses are small and never interfere with the story as a whole.  You might also not be the sort of person that wants a bunch of teenage angst mixed in with your dystopian / death games / SciFi reading but the teenage angst and the love story are well done and I really enjoyed the juxaposition of the two genres.  They mix together effectively and both stories get told with satisfying endings.

Read this series.  It has Dark Post-Apocalyptic Future (which I love), Death Games (which I love even more) and great characters involved in a tight, well written story.

Picture taken from Wikipedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunger_Games

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