I got The Hunger Games (book 1) as an I-noticed-you-were-having-a-bad-day gift (what a nice thing) and started reading right away despite the fact that I have a gazillion interesting books on my “currently reading” shelf.
I had expressed my desire to read it mainly because I was curious about how much like Battle Royale it really is (I haven’t read Battle Royale but seen the movie). And I must say my expectations for The Hunger Games were rather low as I haven’t been overly impressed with the previous young adult hits although I can understand what people like about both Harry Potter and Twilight.
What I did not expect was being dragged into it so quickly and so completely that I finished it in three days (a minor accomplishment when you have a 2,5 year old to take care of). I hadn’t expected to like it either but I did. It’s compelling. The characters are engaging, the world in which it is set is interesting and the story fast, driven and energetic. I also liked the fact that despite its gruesome nature it’s rather “sparkling” with girlie costumes and glitter.
There are aspects that leave a bit of a question mark, like what role the creatures play at the end of the battle because although they might play some role in later parts of the trilogy they make little sense in this one and the reader is left without much of an explanation regarding what they were and why they were meant to be there.
Never the less I still haven’t answered the question that led me to the book in the first place. Is it a Battle Royale rip off? I’ve also heard voices that say it resembles The Running Man written by Stephen Kings alter ego.
A rip off? That’s a difficult question. It has it’s differences in the fact that the story focuses solely on one contestant of the games. It’s not as occupied with the slaughtering of innocent teenagers as Battle Royale is. The story focuses on personal development, “heroism” and relationships as well. Is the main idea for the story borrowed from Battle Royale? Hard to say and only the writer can answer that but it doesn’t matter so much I think. She makes it her own and she doesn’t tell the same story. I pose that if we blame her for stealing her idea from Battle Royale then maybe we should blame Shakespeare for stealing his from the story of Tristan and Isolde when he wrote Romeo and Juliette or we might blame Tolkien for stealing his idea from Richard Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung and while we can agree that they were inspired the works are the authors alone.
Then there is the question of what the story has to say about society and what it “teaches” our young adults. I think I’ll leave that question open and maybe discuss it further when I’ve read the other two books in the trilogy.
All in all I found the experience of reading this novel enjoyable and was pleasantly surprised (not least by the fact that her writing didn’t make me want to jump over a cliff as it did with the two I mentioned above).