HUNGER GAMES: Good, But Kind of Silly

By Jean Paul Fender

 

Up until not that long ago I had no idea what the Hunger Games was even about.  But I got so tired of hearing all the talk about the movie I thought the book might be worth a read.  So I guess when you think about it, I’m a victim of a very successful marketing campaign.

But that means I’m at the moment free of the hype.  I’m also nowhere near a teenager anymore, the primary group of whom this is written for.  In fact, many of my bodily organs that produce raging hormones have probably begun their slow shutdown which will culminate on my deathbed.  So at least there’s a positive side.

#1. The Story

Hunger Games ( the BOOK.  Haven’t seen the movie yet. ) is remarkably engaging.  In a post-apocalyptic society, America is now Panem that has 12 Colonies ruled by the Capitol.  As a punishment for a past rebellion, each District chooses by random draw a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to go fight in a battle to the death.  24 kids enter the game area, one person leaves.

So yeah, it’s a little messed up.

After the kids are selected they get dressed up, paraded in from of cameras, and hope to gain the favor of the audience and as such get “sponsors” who will provide needed supplies in the game arena.  They get some training and are finally sent to their almost inevitable demise.  The central protagonist Katniss Everdeen, a dead coalminers daughter who volunteers to take her younger sisters place, is a fan favorite mainly because her puppeteers fake a romance between her and the chosen boy from her district, Peeta.

And speaking of that romance…

#2. The Target Audience

The targeted audience is obviously the mid-teen demographic.  And dare I say it…mainly girls.  Really messed up girls.  Sorry.  That’s not really a fair statement because all teenage girls are crazier than a pet raccoon anyway.   But boys should like it too because of the the aggressive nature of the story, despite the goofiness of the romance. As a teenager I probably would have been all over this book.

The nature of the romance feels very much in sync with current culture.  Perhaps it’s the Twilight phenomenon that sees otherwise nice girls, fall for those who would likely kill them.   Nonetheless the romance in Hunger Games is very by-the-book but thankfully different in execution to what confusingly made Twilight an unforgivable success.  In fact, the one thing that almost made me put Hunger Games back on the shelf was the thumbs up given by Stephanie Meyer ( Twilight creator ) on the back cover.   Fortunately Hunger Game’s Peeta is a likable sort of dude.  Vampire Edward is a complete emo-sissy with a severe iron deficiency.  Let me be clear: I don’t hate Twilight.  No, I #$@ing hate Twilight.  It and all of its fans.

#3. Too Violent?

Many people were telling me that this is a horribly graphic book but to be honest, I didn’t think so.  No more so than Lord of the Flies or any Shakespeare play where everyone dies at the end.  In fact I felt as if it pulled itself back appropriately considering the target audience.  When someone dies, it’s usually a quick death.  Not slow and painful like having a Systems Analyst job for example.

While writing this review I almost made a mistaken point of saying no society can go this bad and be this bloodthirsty.  But then I did a mental overview of the history of mankind and realized hell…we do this crap all the time.   Sending kids off to fight to the death because the population fears the ruling tyranny?   Welcome to the undeniable depravity of human nature.

#4. The Conclusion Thus Far…

Much as I hate to admit it, I enjoyed this book.  Considering that I finished most of the book in one night must say something for how captivating it can be.  There is friendship, betrayal, character growth and yes, even dorky teenage kissing that at least doesn’t get too creepy and knows when to knock it off.  But most enjoyable is how such a culture is portrayed and how it came to be so dysfunctional.  It is a curious journey into a society that is utterly screwed up and ruled by Orwellian psychopaths that is reminiscent in many ways to The Running Man and Mad Max.

Hunger Games is part of a trilogy of books and I have yet to read the remaining two, Catching Fire and Mocking Jay.  The first ends with things momentarily resolved, but hinting that the crap really is about to hit the fan so it seems like things are about to kick into a higher gear.   I appreciated the ending as thankfully, it avoided the standard happily-ever-after cliche. Suzanne Collins does a fine job of finding her market given the success of the series.  She finds the right balance of emotion that her fans no doubt love her for.  And we can all especially be grateful that unlike Twilight, the characters in Hunger Games at least are not self-centered, whiny, unlikable pussies worthy of nothing less than our full contempt.

So go ahead all you parents of teenagers and read your kids copy.  Chances are you will probably enjoy the book.  Just don’t get all defensive about it because compared to Orwell and Hemingway, this stuff is an Archie Comic.

Now the movie is a review for another time!

  

© 2012 – 2014, Dysfunctional Parrot. All rights reserved. No reproduction of written material is permitted.

Jean Paul Fender

Jean Paul Fender

Supreme Overlord at DysfunctionalParrot.com
Jean Paul Fender ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.
Jean Paul Fender
Jean Paul Fender
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  • Zorrolf

    I too was a victim of the marketing campaign and I went to see the movie!
    Parrot, do yourself a favour and take your 14 dollar bill and light it on fire in your backyard instead.
    This movie is abysmally horrible. It makes no sense whatsoever and it’s an insult to the intelligence of eveybody whose brain isn’t completely confused by a hormonal overdose (i.e. teenagers)

    I heard from several people that the book was a lot better, but the movie….. YIKES!

    • http://twitter.com/SRMcEvoy Steven R. McEvoy

      To be honest is that not most movie adaptations? 

  • http://twitter.com/SRMcEvoy Steven R. McEvoy

    I review frequently for Scholastic and read them before they came out. I loved the first book but it went down a bit with each of the others. I am currently on book 4 of Collins other series The Underland Chronicles and say over all I enjoyed them more.

  • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

    Given the uncertainty on the movies and sequels, I ordered the 2 remaining books from my local library and will wait until the DVD release for the movie.  I’ve heard from more than a few people that the movie is a bit hokey for anyone over the age of 16.

  • UnprofitableServant

    The Hunger Games are far more insidious….

    “The Hunger Games”: A Glimpse at the New World Order?

    http://vigilantcitizen.com/moviesandtv/the-hunger-games-a-glimpse-at-the-new-world-order/

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      I thought the linked article you gave was a very insightful look into our degrading society.  I haven’t seen the movie yet ( will need to wait for the iTunes release ), but I too was surprised by the PG-13 rating.

  • UnprofitableServant

    Hey Parrot…

    Speaking of …ahem hunger…..

    You may find this new pair of pants takes the phrase “lazy, fat American” to a whole new low….

    “Jeans turn into picnic table”

    http://living.msn.com/style-beauty/simply-chic-blog-post/?post=4f408c88-d4b0-46ab-b122-db0735fabef6&OCID=OTD_0416_lucky

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      I never thought the day would come where something knocked Chuck Norris kicking jeans off the pedestal.  I weep for America.

      http://joggingjeans.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/chuck-norris-kicks-ass-in-jeans/

      • UnprofitableServant

        Funny with the pyramid symbolism….

        And the ying/yang ching/chang……

      • UnprofitableServant

        Lowlifes rig trail with Hunger Games-style booby traps

        http://now.msn.com/now/0423-hunger-games-booby-traps.aspx

        “Look ma, no hands… No serious… I really mean “no hands”……”

        Some Forest Gump quotes also come to mind….

        Stupid is as stupid does….

        He must be the stupidest son of a bitch alive, but he sure is fast…

        • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

          Not fast enough.  Good thing they caught the 2 scumbags before anyone got hurt.  What the hell is wrong with some people??

  • UnprofitableServant

    16 Signs That People Are Becoming Stupider

    http://www.infowars.com/16-signs-that-people-are-becoming-stupider/

    Whut iz a moran?