Veronica Roth’s Divergent is widely being hailed as the next Hunger Games. It’s very obvious to me that Ms Roth took a great deal of inspiration from The Hunger Games. I won’t go into the similarities, but they’re there, and at times they almost verge on copy-cating. However, the big, huge difference between these two books—and the factor that makes The Hunger Games better than Divergent—is that Ms Collins actually understands how to create a believable post-apocalyptic setting, whereas Ms Roth does not.
Without going too heavily into the details, the foundations of Panem’s society are laid out intelligbly and clearly. Sure, I still have questions, but these questions aren’t the result of faulty setting/story conception. Of course, at times the information was given in a bit of an info-dump, but information presented awkwardly is better than no information at all.
In short, the world-building was good. I’m glad I read Divergent first, as it probably would have been quite a let-down after reading The Hunger Games.
Still being indulgent, please allow me to *SQUEE* about Peeta a little bit. Now, his character is logistically awful; he’s without a doubt some fantasy pulled out of the author’s head. No boy is that perfect. But I still liked him. If a Mary Sue character is done well enough and is thoroughly endearing, I don’t mind as much as I would otherwise. Peeta is the dystopian equivalent of Prince Charming, something that shouldn’t have worked, but did.
Thirdly, I thought the plot was good. Actually, strike that; I thought the premise was good. Insanely original. Roman gladatorial contests for a new era? Count me in. And since the premise was good, the plot followed a path that, though predictable, had enough newness to be entertaining.
All that being said, I did have one rather large issue with the book. That being the way Katniss involved herself in the Games. In short, how she somehow managed to come out as a glorified god who hadn’t dirtied her hands with her fellow competitors’ blood.
Rue, Thresh, Foxface, and the others were all conveniently not killed by Katniss, or if they were, it was by “accident”. I found the whole set-up to be entirely contrived and used as a method for keeping Katniss squeaky clean and above reproach. Same for Peeta.
By extension, characters who are above reproach generally tend to lack depth or realism. Which is a no-no.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Well deserving of its reputation as the mother of modern dystopian fiction, The Hunger Games is well worth reading. It isn’t a perfect book, but I think it comes close enough that readers don’t care.