For quite some time now I have been hearing about Suzanne Collins’ book The Hunger Games from a plethora of sources, all of which had good things to say. Naturally this made me want to check it out. I started it this past Friday when I had about an hour break. I thought it was interesting, but I was ok with putting it down until later. When I picked it up again that night it was suddenly 2 AM and I had finished the book. Whoa…how did that happen???
The Hunger Games follows the story of Katniss Everdeen who is a 16 year old in the post-apocalyptic world called Panem. Every year one boy and one girl are chosen from each of the 12 Districts to compete in the Hunger Games where the winner is the last one alive. In order to save her younger sister, Katniss volunteers to be the girl from her District. The reader is then taken with her as she attempts to survive the Games.
There were a lot of things I didn’t really care for about the book, but as evidenced through how quickly I read it I still became completely captivated by the story and it’s characters. My biggest gripe is that the story is told in 1st person present tense narration through Katniss, or as Kristen Lamb calls it “come along with me” narration. This is my absolute least favorite type of narration. It reminds me of the old film noir movies where the detective is narrating everything in a detached monotone and that was exactly the feeling I got from the book. The narration felt clipped and often void of all emotion.
Even though I didn’t like it, I understood why Collins chose to write her book this way. Katniss comes from a world where she faces the threat of starvation daily and has to watch everything she says and does for fear of being deemed a traitor. She has learned to essentially turn off her emotions and the style of narration demonstrates this and really fits with her personality. I just personally didn’t care for it and, as a side note, while I liked her more and more as the story went on Katniss was not my favorite character.
But that’s enough of the bad. It is a testament to how engrossing the story is that I was able to forget about all I just mentioned and actually really enjoyed reading it. There is a great cast of supporting characters, especially Rue and Peeta, who we truly grow to love and the action of the plot always has an undercurrent of intensity that keeps us turning the pages. Even in the quiet and touching moments we are constantly aware of the fact that someone could appear at any moment to kill our favorite characters.
Once I got into the story I obviously couldn’t put it down, but when I was actually finished with it I was filled with mixed emotions. Part of me absolutely loved it yet at the same time I was so frustrated with Katniss that I wanted to scream. Her character grows leaps and bounds through the story, but she can still be incredibly dense which causes her to do things that drive me crazy! The fact that The Hunger Games was able to evoke such strong emotions out of me, however, shows what a good book it really is. I am hoping that after I read the rest of the series my frustrations will be resolved.
What about you? If you’ve read it did you like it? What did you like or not like? Did the narration style bother you?