I had few preconceived notions about The Hunger Games
when I started reading it because I’d managed to avoid a lot of the hype that surrounds popular books. (I know: Figure that one out.) Most of the details I’d come by had been related by a friend, who said the book was interesting and worth reading. She was right on both counts and I did enjoy it.
However, it wasn’t the ubertome I’d expected from what buildup I’d been exposed to. The plot is engaging enough, but I kept finding myself thinking of Stephen King’s The Running Man
, with a little bit of Logan’s Run
thrown in for good measure. When I tried to put my finger on why I felt that way, I concluded that the book had originality but didn’t quite manage to break the mold of dystopian commonplace.
The main thing that kept me from being unequivocally enthusiastic about the book is this: I didn’t find it believable that the people of Panem accept their fate unquestioningly, behaving uniformly like sheep patiently awaiting their turn in the abattoir. They have the ability to get outside the Seam’s electrified enclosure and flee their prison because the electricity rarely works and there’s a hole in the fence. Why in the world don’t they take advantage of it and escape the district? There are no armed forces keeping the residents in check, no tracking devices on the citizens of the districts. Anyone with a modicum of sense wouldn’t hang around long enough to undergo the reaping and chance being forced into the Hunger Games, or watch their loved ones be slaughtered in them, or expose their children to that risk. Gale actually suggests leaving, but Katniss thinks the idea is preposterous. We’re never told why it’s such an outrageous proposition, however. It seems as though she should jump at the chance because her little sister, whom she loves very much, is now eligible for the reaping.
If you’re fond of dystopian tales or simply a likeable story, you’ll enjoy this book. It was entertaining and at times engrossing, and I plan to read the rest of the series.
I was surprised by the careless editing. The Scholastic imprint used to mean that the book it graced would be well edited, with hardly an error. Not any longer. Examples of the many mistakes include subjunctives (“Better he does [do] it in the woods”), word choice (“skinny arms around me like a vice [vise]”; “I hear the anthem that proceeds [precedes] the death recap”; “the others will be honing [homing] in”; “trying to staunch [stanch] the flow”), verb inflection (“the front bakery bell rung [rang]”), comma splices (“I have Peeta to clutch for balance, he is so steady”), and spelling (“the blood bath [bloodbath] at the”). The number of errors was jarring but not enough to ruin the book for those who pay attention to such things.