Saturday, March 24, 2012

If you Liked The Hunger Games, Read These

Before I recommend anything, first allow me to geek out a bit.

I saw The Hunger Games movie at the midnight premiere, and let me just say, it was fantastic. It's the kind of book that is very well suited to be made into a movie -- suspenseful, action-packed, with lots of great character stuff going on as well. I was gasping, laughing, wincing, flailing, and at one point honest-to-God crying (along with everyone else in the theater). The acting was spot-on, the costumes induced extreme envy, and the script (which Suzanne Collins, a screenwriter, worked on) was great. I may be alone in this, but I thought the jerky camera techniques were very effective in showing emotion and atmosphere.

Favorite character: Cinna, although I also loved Rue.

Kiss rating: epic but not overdone.

Seneca's beard rating: F/ING EPIC. My awe was such that I was completely distracted by The Beard of Awesome. " it real? Psst. Psst, Katherine!! Look at his beard!!!" "I can see his beard, shut up!!"

*Ahem* Moving on with the review...

Poetic justice: a little too heavy-handed.

Speaking of poetic justice, Cato: He made me sad towards the end. I was really annoyed with him in the beginning, mainly because the actor looked almost exactly like the actor playing Peeta and I kept getting them mixed up.

Speaking of heavy-handed, implications for the modern world: I find it ironic how obsessed people are with a movie about excessive voyeurism and love for cinematic violence. Suzanne Collins, you have made your point quite effectively. Also, there were some really grim references to American history. I was wincing at the police shield-and-club riot control -- especially when they sprayed water on the rioters from District 11, most of whom were African-American. And then we have rebellions, mushroom clouds, propaganda videos, glorification of the military, and the extreme poverty of District 12 which is a sad reality for parts of the real-life, present-day US. Most of this I liked. However -- and this might have been just me -- did the decadence of the Capitol give off a vibe of anti-LGBT? I'm probably reading way too much into it, but it was enough that it made me uncomfortable.

"Ship"/Opinion on the "love triangle": I got the impression from fans that Peeta was this perfect guy, and I was happy to see that he wasn't. He was flawed, just like Katniss, and that made him more likeable than if he'd been this goody-two-shoes baker boy destined to be with Katniss. Also, the "love triangle" as of this book/movie doesn't really exist, because Katniss and Gale weren't exactly a "thing." And neither are Peeta and Katniss, outside the Hunger Games. 

If you liked The Hunger Games, there are many similar books out there -- dystopian, survival stories, war stories, revolution stories, competition and game stories. Here are a few suggestions. In the interest of keeping it short, I'll limit it to three:

The Quillan Games by D.J. MacHale is basically The Hunger Games before there was a Hunger Games. The premise: Quillan is a world controlled by a giant corporate monopoly, Blok. (Like Wal-Mart gone evil. Oh wait...) Bobby Pendragon becomes trapped in the Quillan Games, a kind of twisted Olympics run by Blok where people bet on different Challengers. The games and betting statistics are televised to the population. The poverty on Quillan is so extreme that people bet things like a quarter's rent, food, or their job. If they lose and can't pay the price, Blok sends them to the nuclear dump, where they spend the rest of their short lives cleaning up radioactive waste. Bobby meets an underground organization that uses him to spearhead a revolution -- in defiance of Blok, people stop betting on the games.

Review/recommend: Like The Hunger Games, this is a first-person narrative about games in a dystopian world. There's even a shade of a love triangle -- but like The Hunger Games, it's not played up very much. Unlike The Hunger Games, however, The Quillan Games is not the first book of its series. Enough backstory is given so that you could probably read The Quillan Games without having read the previous books, if you're quick on the uptake. Without giving away any spoilers, I would also venture to say that's it's even darker than The Hunger Games. It's a bit of a send-up to 1984, and, well, you know how that one turned out...

Review/recommend: I recommend this one chiefly because of the survival story aspect, which was a large part of The Hunger Games. The commentary on government is another huge part of it -- the entire book is an allegory for society. Also, Cato and his gang remind me of a certain character and his followers from Lord of the Flies. While The Hunger Games is an every-man-for-himself fight to the death, Lord of the Flies tackles a different challenge: getting everyone to work together to survive. It's very dark, there's lots of psychological scarring, and some favorite characters die -- just like in The Hunger Games! Yay!

Happy reading, and if you haven't seen The Hunger Games movie I highly recommend it.


  1. Also The Running Man by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman, I think) and Battle Royale.

    1. Funny you should mention The Running Man! I was considering putting it on this list, but thought it would be too long. I was also trying to stick to more "YA" titles (although Ender's Game and Lord of the Flies aren't YA, they are about kids). Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Loved the views you left in the comments of Angelhorn! And your movie review is spot-on. *following you* :)

    1. Thank you! That was certainly an interesting discussion. :)

      I did love the movie but that doesn't mean it didn't have flaws! Like anything. I'd go see it again, definitely, and perhaps keeping that discussion from Angelhorn in mind.

      By all means, feel free to follow, lol.


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