author C.C.Cole's blog

Sunday, February 19, 2012

On Hunger, Hype, and Harm

Finally I finished “The Hunger Games,” the bestseller, widely acclaimed, widely sold, widely hyped novel, with an upcoming more widely hyped film in the next few weeks.  Considering that this is one of the first downloads in my kindle back when the devices cost three times more than they do now, I’ve only now brought myself to finishing it.  It’s been so long I can’t recall what sparked my interest, probably something from Twitter.  I put it down at least twice, but finally, I gave this bestselling book the chance any bestseller deserves.  I will exclude spoilers, considering the upcoming film.

With my typical last-to-hear the biggest news, I solicited a few YA book reviewers for my first novel “Act of Redemption.”  A young lady emailed me informing me of her disinterest because she couldn’t stand any more dystopian fiction.  Hmm…I thought.  More dystopian fiction?  Whatever could she mean by that?  I re-read the back cover of my own book, describing the fallen city of Gastar.  Uh-oh.  Am I unoriginal?  I see more discussion of dystopian fiction in social networking.  What am I missing?  Ah, now I know.  “The Hunger Games.”  Slick move, C.C!  Though my own series follows a different storyline, I can see how one would read a synopsis and think “Hunger Games Redux.” 

The reviews of “The Hunger Games” are interesting.  One reviewer on amazon stated if anyone puts this book down, then the reader is a corpse.  Wow.  I put it down twice.  Corpse, huh?  Might be a new look for me.  That’s like a newspaper that said author Jonathan Franzen could tell the future.  One’s got to love the enthusiasm, but this kind of hype elevates expectations to the point audiences sometimes get turned away.  I like favorable reviews as much as any writer, but to demean other readers if they don’t worship it doesn’t do as much a favor as pointing out the message of the author’s work.

“The Hunger Games” is not a bad book; and honestly, I’ll say it’s a good book; to me it’s overall four stars.  It features a heroine named Katniss, whose bravery shines throughout the story, eclipsing her male almost-love interests.  The society has groups of people divided into districts that must go out and hunt for food, and if selected, the young ones, compete against each other televised, called “The Hunger Games.”  The action speeds up toward the ending, (thank goodness, got it the fourth star from me), gives the reader some surprises and innovation by the characters, and leaves the reader with interest for more, as would be favorable in a series.

A critical reviewer who gave it three stars had the same complaint I had:  Why did the society do this?  Is this futuristic society just mean and enjoy watching kids kill each other as entertainment?  What happened to the acting industry?  It’s also clichéd a bit; the dystopian world is the end product of ill-fated deeds of a prior civilization (never seen that since Planet of the Apes.).  The reason I believe I put it down so many times is that, to be fair to Collins, some horrors people really don’t want to face; such as serious food shortages and eating entrails of animals.  People in some parts of the world still live this way, and Collins reminds us of this in her work and makes us appreciate what we have.

So readers, check out “The Hunger Games.”  If you can get through the first couple of chapters, then the rest is a smooth, good read.  I’m curious about the film and may check it out.  Comparatively, amongst bestsellers I’ve reviewed, is it better than George R. R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones?”  Martin’s work is a massive epic, Collin’s is a story, and so I consider them different types of books.  Yes, Martin hits it out of the park, but Ms. Collins is no shabby writer.


  1. Well, the whole explanation on why the Capitol gives the games is given throughout the other two books.

    I guess that never bothered me because I won a boxed set and read everything over two days. Still, I must say it was a pretty harrowing experience. Yes it's brilliant, but I couldn't read anything else for weeks.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Yes, harrowing, but compared to Chichton's books "Timeline" and "Jurassic Park," not nearly as harrowing. But her work is good and it stands. I will read them all.

    Is your book out yet? Send me a tweet @gastarbooks