Despite the opening stating that this book stands without having read the original... it doesn't. Within the first chapter I was completely lost. There must have been a dozen characters within the first two chapters, repeated referenses to things as if we knew what had happened and the whole things felt like a part 2. Got through eight chapters and had no idea who the protagonist(s) were, who the bad guys were, or why I should care of any of them. Should be entitled... PART 2 of the world of ... whatever.
The idea for this book -- the post-apocalyptic world and the games themselves -- is wonderful and intriguing. However, Collins fails to accurately describe the world in a way in any detail as to make it believable. While the premise pulled me along, each time she would describe a technology I just couldn’t get past how any society with hover cars, genetic engineering, bullet trains, super-stealth technology, Star-Trek like viewing screens, etc. can be supported by districts of what appears to be a few thousand people mining coal, hand picking fruit, and barely at subsistence levels.
Collins also couldn’t seem to decide upon whether these games were farce or serious. It felt like a “Running Man” rip-off. Why does a post-apocalyptic world need to be full of cheesy 1980s game show silliness? I was hoping for a fresh take on it.
The main character was also rather unsympathetic. Despite being a trained hunter... she never hunted anyone, ambushed anyone, or successfully initiated action against anyone. Nor did the games make any sense. She walked for a full day until exhaustion in a ‘random’ direction. This would make the area hundreds of square miles. Yet... apparently other people were within a few hundred yards the same evening? Collins should watch “Mantracker” or talk with some search and rescue people. People can go a few miles in the wilderness and never be found again (even by skilled trackers and dogs) -- let alone by random children not even specifically looking for them.
However, the premise and action is generally good enough to recommend the book for a young (pre-teen) audience or those who don’t care about the glaring credibility holes in it. Still Collins could have done a better job grounding the world, skipping a lot of the silliness of the city folk, and giving us something to cheer about with the main character – at least having her actions in-line with her abilities.
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