Book Reviews: The Hunger Games and I Am Number Four

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

I guess I can say that this is between “I like it” and “I love it” for me. It’s not going to go into my list of faves– which, to be fair, is filled with mostly Anne Rice and J.K. Rowling — but it holds its own and I sincerely recommend this for anyone who wants an entertaining and riveting read.

The pacing is the best part of the book; it’s been too long since I read a book cover to cover without putting it down. Even if the dialog is not very interesting or particularly witty, one can’t help but want to know what happens next, and the next after that, etc. The plot and premise is not very original, especially to someone who’s a fan of the Battle Royale franchise, but Collins did manage to turn things around and make it her own.

The weakest point of this book for me is probably the romantic angle. The love triangle is awkward and at times forced. While I can understand how [SPOILER ALERT] Peeta and Katniss could have a connection, and the author even made an effort to provide a back story, I just don’t feel the actual chemistry. Same with Gale and Katniss. I was actually more sold on the other (non-romantic) relationships, like Katniss and Rue. Or even Cinna’s weird friendship/affection with/ for Katniss and vice versa. [/END SPOILER]

It’s one of those books I want to see made into a movie, because 1) it would make a great movie, plot-wise and 2) I am not overly emotionally invested that I fear a movie would just ruin it.

Before I read the books, I’ve been getting a lot of positive reviews for it. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it overrated, it’s not as epic as others have led me to believe. If I were to rate it with other YA trilogies I’ve read in the recent year that is of a similar bent, I would rate it higher than Scott Westerfield’s Uglies and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments.

I will be buying the second and third books in the trilogy, but it can wait.

I Am Number Four

Okay, I admit, I bought this book because it’s large and thick for its price and it has Alex Pettyfer on the cover. If you must know, Alex Pettyfer is always, always the first guy that comes to mind whenever I have to fantasy cast a blond, handsome guy, aged 16-25, often with some sort of special ability or set in an alternate reality.

Moving on.

The book’s concept is good, but the execution – not so much. It focuses a little too much on teenage angst for my liking. Also, the author was unable to pull me into the Lorien lore. The plot is predictable. Their main problems/hurdles– though the author probably want to make it seem like they’re impossible to overcome — feels altogether surmountable. Okay, let me try to explain that better: In Harry Potter, while waiting for the final book, there was some “J.K. Rowling won’t kill off Harry… will she? Oh no, what if the only way to defeat Voldemort is for Harry to dieeeee….” Here, there’s just, meh, he’s gonna develop some supercoolmegaawesome “legacy” and save the planet(s).

While reading, I kept thinking “I could write this better.”, and this is not a testament to how good I think my writing is, but to how much the book could be improved. There are times when it becomes too Sweet Valley High, when I expected it to be X-Men. I don’t know, I’m thinking I should have gotten the second book in The Hunger Games Trilogy instead of this.

I’m sorry, Alex Pettyfer, I hope the movie is better.

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