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Customer Review

692 of 871 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing novel, major flaw, July 10, 2009
This review is from: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1) (Hardcover)
You've got to hand it to Collins: No one can plot a fantasy novel like her. Nobody. She has you not from the first page or the first graf, but the first *word*. She creates believable, likable and riveting characters, ridiculously addictive survival scenarios and a rich world to boot. If you aren't up until 4 a.m. finishing this thing, you're a corpse.

My only problem with this novel also happens to be a very big problem: the overall premise. I'm not spoiling anything by mentioning that the plot involves kids pitted against each other in a giant outdoor slugfest to the death. Again: Kids pitted against each other in a fight to the death. Oh, and it's all on TV. Everyone in this post-apocalyptic world either thinks that's neat, or throws up his or her hands and figures there's nothing that can be done about it.

The author explains this away by creating a world of poverty and hunger; the parents of the young gladiators are so beaten down and afraid of the totalitarian regime that they just hug their kids and shut up and pray, but -- and this is just my opinion -- that's not an effective enough mechanism. It simply doesn't jibe with human nature. Even the starving, terrorized parents of child soldiers in Africa have been known to drag themselves into the bush and track their kids down or die trying. As much as I loved everything else about this book, I can't get past the basic setup. Isn't there one parent out there, one crazy uncle or scrappy rebellious mom, who'd stand up and protest at this amazingly cruel custom? There's not a single voice among the privileged rich in Capital City who might kick up a fuss? I know we're talking about a cruel dictatorship -- and an all-powerful one, at that -- but parental bonds have been known to be very strong things, and I think the author could have done a better job selling us on why the barbarism continues.
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Showing 1-10 of 163 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 19, 2009 2:34:13 PM PDT
Katie B says:
The problem is, as shown in the second book, you'd be gunned down the second you tried to do anything about it. The "Peacekeepers" will do anything to maintain the peace, even if it means putting a bullet in your head right then and there.

Posted on Nov 19, 2009 12:49:19 PM PST
VP says:
I agree that there would be at least one crazy mom out there trying to save their child...just say...Sarah Connor!!!! Like in Terminator 2!!! Haaa She'd be armed to the teeth fighting back against the tyranny!

Posted on Jul 20, 2010 8:08:18 AM PDT
S. Dean says:
I agree. I have not read the 2nd book yet but knowing these Games have been going on for years - one would think people would do something. What if the whole District refused to watch the Games? What if a generation decided to just not have kids? I enjoyed the book but this did bother me as well.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2010 9:00:37 AM PDT
Evan Kennedy says:
I don't find this premise to be that unbelievable. A group of citizens would never suddenly decide to "stop having kids" for a generation. The "whole town" can't just refuse to watch the games as to do so would involve planning, which in turn would get them killed.

We have ample evidence of this exact kind of behavior throughout human history. Think of Stalinist Russia. Stalin created a society where any kind of dissent, even turning off the radio too soon after one of his speeches, was a reportable offense. A neighbor would report you and you would be carted off to the gulag. If that neighbor didn't report you, that neighbor risked being reported themselves, and so on. Stalin created this society where he says "Jump" and you say: "How high?" This society lasted for the better part of a century.

Back to this particular story: there was recently a rebellion (I'm not exactly sure of the dates, but it seemed like it was less than a generation ago). As a result of this rebellion, an entire district was obliterated, presumably with all the people in it. There are stories of people being shot for trivial things. The use of starvation to subdue populations. The book even says that the games are a way for the government to remind the people who's in charge.

Similar things have happened in our recent history.

Posted on Nov 26, 2010 2:26:34 PM PST
spacemom3 says:
I totally agree. And it gets only more and more implausible with the other 2 books. I found the trilogy very engaging, but this major flaw in the premise of the books is hard to overlook. We're given very sketchy information about the size of Panem and its population, so it's hard to place the heroine and her band in context. This perspective gives me the feeling that I'm looking at Panem through a telescope.

Posted on Dec 5, 2010 11:08:39 AM PST
Bridget says:
To your major flaw: These are parents with more then one children. Parents who though they need to get to their children can't, because it speaks of rebellion. And the '13th colony' horror story every one is fed doesn't help. 2 children per district a year isn't near as awful as the whole district. One of their children isn't as bad as all. Its mainly the perspective every one is forced to face.

Posted on Feb 16, 2011 6:55:05 AM PST
Bella Rosa says:
I so agree with this review. Maybe if it were the 12th or the 24th Hunger Games - within recent memory of the quashed rebellion. But for 3 generations parents turned over their kids and no one - neither parents or the chosen teens themselves - ever fought back? At the very least, Katniss' mother the apothecary should have been rich from providing birth control herbs and moss bundles soaked in vinegar.

Posted on Feb 23, 2011 8:58:52 AM PST
Wookie says:
See: Gladiators. Replace: Volunteer/POW/Slave with Children. People have a strange way of adapting to things (especially organised, competitive events) when they have been ground into the mainstream of many generations. Parents in Africa are going to react differently when their children are being scooped up because there is nothing to gain from the loss (and possibly return) of their child. No fame, no honor, no increase in their standard of living.

Posted on Mar 7, 2011 9:05:29 PM PST
PRlady says:
I recently came across Suzanne Collins Hunger Games book. Being that this post is two years old it is possible that you have read the rest of the trilogy. If not I highly recommend you do. When you do you will understand why she chose to write the way she did. I am not putting down your critique of the book, I'm just saying if you haven't read the other two you should.

Posted on Mar 27, 2011 3:03:07 PM PDT
NMB says:
*SPOILER ALERT* Remember, the first rebellion occured just 74 years ago, and all districts were forced to back down, whilst district 13 was destroyed completely (or so they think). I think the second book gives you a much better perspective on how tight the grasp around them is. But I think Suzanne Collins did a perfectly good job on describing how horrible it is in the first as well. Like when Rue was talking about how they get whipped and even killed for barely not following the rules in the orchards where she works. Also, it is all their generation knows. And they do eventually rebel. VERY much so.
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