This post is the first in a randomly posted series of “Friday Book Reviews.” If you have a book that you would like me to review, let me know and maybe I’ll add it to my list.

The Hunger Games has caused quite a stir in my little corner of the world. I saw comment threads running into the hundreds debating the merits of the books/movie. What is interesting to me is the cry of those against the books/movie. Some (such as my wife) do not wish to see the movie because the violence of children killing children. I get that. But the one’s who have no real idea about the plot or the themes that are in the book. One man actually thought the book was suggesting the violence was positive.

I actually laughed when he suggested it, but I couldn’t get him to believe me. I read the first book because it was really cheap on Amazon. I wasn’t going to read the last two because I had heard bad reviews. Then someone encouraged me to finish them anyhow. I read the last two books in a week. Skipped a paper to do it and was relieved when a client cancelled so I could read a few more pages.

So I thought I might do a book review and explain why I liked the trilogy very much.

What I liked about the books

In my opinion, there was a lot to like about the books. The plot was absolutely fantastic. She does an excellent job of building the plot and creating something the reader can believe in. Her characterization of the world we are challenged with is palpable. There are real issues to confront. There are people who are liked and those who are hated. Most importantly, her characters are complicated and complex. There are good things that seemingly bad people do and bad things that seemingly good people do.

The first book has some grammatical train wrecks and some very awkward sentence structures but those are cleaned up nicely in the second and third book.

I like that she pushes through chaotic scenes with chaotic writing. I know that there are some people who dislike this, but I believe that it is an under utilized literary tool. Her cadence and sentences get choppy and speed up in battle scenes. The chaos of battle almost comes off the page to the reader.

Let’s be honest, this is a book with a female hero that is about more than getting her boyfriend to like her forever or she’ll go into a deep depression. That alone should be worth something. She fights the seeming cultural push to create female characters that are only obsessed with finding love. As a father of three girls, I appreciate that.


I think this is the most controversial part of the book. I have heard that the book promotes socialism. I have heard the book promotes capitalism. I have heard the books promote Totalitarianism. All three ideas are in the book. What I like about the book is that the author interacts with these ideas. She engages them. She has a Capitol that provides for their citizens on the backs of their outcasts. She has a district that is run completely socialistic. She has a rebellion that has the stated purpose of starting a Republic.

More importantly to me the author engages questions of morality. We so desperately want a clean world. We want a world where all of our assumptions and desires actually happen. But that world doesn’t exist yet. The society in this book shows the reader the tragedy of stopping to look at our fellow humans as human. When is it OK to defy the government? That question is at the forefront of this book. What about our societies obsession with reality TV?

What about our obsession with youth sports? How many kids are taught all sorts of bad morals so they can play on a sports team? How many parents model behavior on the sidelines that would get them thrown out of any other venue?

To how many people are kids nothing more than a commodity? Even to their parents who are pushing for their child to be a superstar for their own benefit?

Add to the commodity factor the realization that life doesn’t simply end up the way we always want it to end. People we love die. People we love have emotional and mental break downs. People we love don’t love us. Parents say hurtful things. Loves end.

Pain, sorrow and numbness enter the plot.

These books do an excellent job of creating realistic characters that wrestle with that reality. While their wrestling may not lead to all of the conclusions that I liked, it was real and honest wrestling. These books could stay with you for a while as you enter into the world created for you and it enters into you.

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