The Hunger Games, Revisited

By Suzanne Collins

Genre: YA Science-Fiction

Avg. Rating: 4.33/5

“You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope.”

Do I really need to write a synopsis for this book at this point? Whatever… Let’s get this over with!

In a post-civil war United States now called Panem, a battle royale is held among 24 children between the ages of 12-18, chosen in pairs at random from twelve districts. The titular Hunger Games is used as a form of propaganda to remind the citizens of Panem what would happen if they revolt against the countries capital. When a young woman named Katniss finds herself in the arena she is forced to make some hard decisions in order to survive.

When I first read the Hunger Games I was starting middle school and preteen me loved it! Me now– who is not only an adult but a writer– found the book mediocre at best. My primary complaint, which seems to be common, is regarding the protagonist Katniss Everdeen. While rereading the book I found it hard to understand her and her overall personality. It seems as though her personality changes for the convenience of the plot. Though acting differently was crucial for her survival, her mental commentary was inconsistent in its representation of her true personality. She seems to constantly change her mind for the sole purpose of progressing the plot when it starts to fall a little short. Additionally, the use of dues ex machina was often obvious, and could leave the reader thinking: Well that was convenient.

I have to give the book credit, though, for being a good battle royale. It introduced many to the concept for better or for worse, as well as sparking a mass interest in YA fiction and dystopian settings. Additionally, the world is well developed and even with the relatively minimal introduction, it is easy to understand. Part of this may as well be due to the fact that Panem is a post-civil war United States– this fact may not always be obvious to younger readers. Character-wise, secondary characters were handled very well and were well written as well as consistent. In fact, I can’t help but believe the book would be overall better if it had been written in some interaction of the third person.

At the end of the day, I have to give the first book of this series a lower rating than the average. After some consideration, I have decided to give this book as solid 3/5.

If, for whatever reason, you have yet to read this book, it is available on Amazon; as well as your local library.

Annihilation

By: Jeff VanderMeer

Genre: Science-Fiction

Average Rating: 3.67/5

“‘We all live in a kind of continuous dream,’ I told him. ‘When we wake, it is because something, some event, some pinprick even, disturbs the edges of what we’ve taken as reality.’”

Annihilation is an interesting examination of our world evolving into something new, something rarely seen by modern eyes. This series seeks to answer the question of how the world would look and how it would affect us as industrialized beings; introducing us to key characters as well as the surreal version of our very own world. Strange things occur in the pristine landscape dubbed Area X. We follow the protagonist, the unnamed biologist, as she and her team explore the alien terrain.

I knew before I even picked up the book that it wasn’t going to be one of those books you simply just breeze through. Even with a pretty good understanding of many of the concepts explored in this book, I found myself still having to pause to contemplate what I had just read. Whether it be for reasons of reflection or comprehension, I feel this book would require occasional breaks for even the most advanced readers. For me, this is the primary negative of this series thus far.

Nevertheless, VanderMeer creates a vibrant world with characters capable of showcasing its mystery. Often time the book is somewhat poetic in its execution and very thought-provoking as a result. Character development among the voyagers we follow is exceptional, as we watch them become overcame by the power of Area X, and in some instances overcame by nature itself. The objectivity of the author of the world outside her mind is just as interesting as her personal opinions regarding what is going on around her.

In the end, I find this to be a good introduction to this world, as well as a good introduction to a character we will hopefully be seeing more of. I give it 4.3/5.

If you’d like to get a copy to check out for yourself you can get one here.