The Hunger Games - Suzanne  Collins
Despite my worst worries - mainly that the Twilight fans were reading this thing - after I watched the movie in theaters, I went to Barnes and Noble and watched my fiance buy thing thing, new, at $9.99. Whoa, I didn't even buy "On Writing" new - but if you think that you can find a copy of this to borrow or buy at a discount in Fort Wayne, then you haven't been looking for a copy of this recently. No less than 200 copies have been bought by the library system here and ALL OF THEM are out right now and all of them are also on waiting lists that have a staggering amount of people patiently waiting for them to be returned to the library.

No, I have not read/seen "Battle Royale" either, so I am just going on my liking of this book.

I liked the movie, I thought that it could have done with a good, hard R (ah, but we must let the children see the bloodshed, mustn't we?) and after seeing it, I was jazzed up enough to be alright with my fiance buying a new copy at B&N. Thankfully we could find the softback - I really don't like buying a book from an author I don't know from past experience brand new, but this book is as hot as Harry Potter in the early 2000's.

I am torn about this book, because I really love the concept, the world that the book takes place in (Panem is a great study in contrasts), I love that the author had this great theme of two's and dualism going on, and, for the most part, I like the author's writing style. The book is, mostly, well-paced - a great change of pace, as I am currently on page 130 of "House of Leaves," and I almost felt spoiled by the fact that new things happen to advance the plot in a linear fashion. Katniss is a powerful and believable protagonist, and, again, I mostly like her.

THE PROBLEMS -

It is at Katniss Everdeen that we see our first problems. She is said to have grown up tough and to have lost her sense of innocence at a young age and is a premature adult, but on more than a handful of incidents, she is still frustratingly childish in her thoughts. The only problem with the fact that she still thinks childishly at odd points (such as her obsession with her sister, her obsession with what others think of her and her obsession with how she should treat Peeta) is that we're cemented into her point of view for the entire ride of the book. This has its strengths - Katniss is an interesting enough protagonist, albeit a bit young - but at times her point of view is not a boon to the movement of the story. There were several points in the book where I felt that a less fixed POV in the story would have hampered the story to a less degree and would have enriched the story.

It also got a bit annoying when she kept thinking about how she looked - I GET IT, flame-dresses, flame-nails, flame-people, flame-things. It was really here that I felt that the author underestimated her audience, where she did it so little beforehand.

I really can't help but think that this was in need of one last, serious revision before it was published, and that's too bad.

FINAL SCORE - 3.5

Edit: I am loathe to do this, but I felt as though I had to edit my review of this book, in terms of the story of Panem as a whole. If you read this as a stand-alone, then yes, it is still a nearly four-star story, in my opinion. In terms of the whole picture, though, this book is as much the right "first" book in the series as Lion King 1/2 was the first in the series.

It's a fun prequel, but in terms of anything actually really "happening" that effects the story that could be explained in brief flash backs or through quick explanations, in my opnion, you're really not missing much of anything. Katniss doesn't come into her own until well into the second book. when the s*** actually does hit the fan.

So, I guess that to cut it quick, the problem with this book is that it is a waiting period before the good part of the story comes in. I would say that this problem, more than likely, rests with the fact that book publishers nowadays want fiction to be released in at least a trilogy, which is a damn shame. I think saying this book is "too slow" is putting it far too lightly, as this book never really even properly TAKES OFF, as though Miss Collins is a demented train conductor who keeps taking off and then completely shutting the train off time and again.