Disclaimer: This review pertains only to the first book, and not to the whole trilogy. I haven't read the rest, and I don't plan to. The Hunger Games is a deeply flawed book with a few redeeming qualities. The story seems engaging. The world is interesting. The characters could be in other hands. Collins turns otherwise interesting material dull, and exciting into boring. The present-tense is awkward at first, but you get over that. Unfortunately it's also sloppy and just plain bad. When a battle-scene seems as serene as a sunset you need to speed things up, get my blood pumping. When a character dies I need to feel some emotion. I didn't. Collins' abilities are fine for television – I actually liked the movie, not that it was anything special. The general story is good, but Collins doesn't have the skill to keep it up. One of her worst faults is her inability to show instead of tell, and she has none of the qualities that allowed Tolkien to pull it off: she is not groundbreaking or masterful, and she wrote this four years ago, not sixty. Please don't try to defend the style as “the point of view of a teenage girl.” They tried that with Twilight. It's bad writing. Get over it. I have to talk about the love-triangle. Cliché and boring. I really want to see something else by now. This was standard, and Collins' characters didn't help. Peeta seems to exist just to love Katniss. Katniss is whiny and annoying. Gale has all the personality of a two-by-four, putting him in the top ten percentile in this book. You know who's interesting? Haymitch. Cinna wasn't too bad. Primrose seemed like a classic Mary Sue, as did the mayor's girl – whatever her name was. One thing that did shine was the justified use of Deus-ex-Machina. The setup of the games justified it as little else would. It still felt boringly convenient and destroyed tension but it was fresh, which is nice. Not fresh? The book in general. There's nothing too new here. A female archer protagonist goes up against all odds in order to save a damsel in distress and somehow succeeds while sticking it to the man all at once – yay. Am I too critical? Probably. That doesn't make this book worth all the drool it's inducing. Out of ten I'd call it a five. It's not particularly bad, but it's not very good either.
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