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The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1)

The Hunger Games - Suzanne  Collins Spoilers! If you haven't read it.I'm going back and forth on this one. I'm sure as far as a lot of teen fiction goes, this was great. And Collins is a good writer. But it also seemed incredibly contrived. I'm willing to bet Collins came up with the idea of the Hunger Games, a Survivor-like reality show in which you actually have to kill your opponents, and then created this post-apocalyptic dystopian society around it. The problem I had was that I just didn't find the situation believable. I have read a lot of science fiction, fantasy and dystopian fiction that gets you absorbed right in the setting. You believe this place could exist. Reading The Hunger Games, I was constantly aware it was a constructed story in a fictional setting. I just couldn't get into the idea of Panem. And it was also rather predictable. I know it's written for teens, but I'm relatively certain my teen self would have agreed.I am also mildly traumatized after reading it, and had to put the book down and breathe a little when each child (child!) died. I'm definitely not one to say what an author can and cannot write, nor one to say young readers can't handle reading about death and murder. But it felt problematic that readers are meant to feel really attached to Katniss, Peeta and Rue, and sort of Thresh, but the others die in very quick, detached ways (except for Cato), and that ultimately, it is seen as a game Katniss has to win. I thought the overarching dilemma of the book would be "How can the Capitol do this to children?!" or "How can they all survive?" instead of "How can Katniss and Peeta both win?" What with their romance, feigned or not, their cleverness and their ultimate survival, it is easy to forget they are both kids, and this shouldn't have happened to them. I know it must have been Collins intention to bring up these questions of ethics, but ultimately they are overshadowed by the Game. Much like what happens within Panem itself.I'm not sure Collins went deep enough into the moral implications of Katniss' participation in these games or the disturbing effects witnessing these events would have on a young (or anyone's) psyche. At times she throws in sentences like "Foxface had a family" (not a direct quote, obviously), but on the whole I did not feel we were not lead to feel too sorry for any of the other participants. I imagine in the further books Katniss (and Peeta?) will rebel more and have to grapple with these issues. Or I hope so, otherwise I think I would have to mark my review down.That all being said, I read it in about two sittings and I will probably read the rest of the series, hoping that it will tackle more important issues than how to outwit and kill twelve-year-olds. It was definitely a captivating story. I'm just not sure I entirely liked what I was being captivated by. Kind of like watching Survivor.