I thought I’d review The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst on the same blog as they were part of the same two for one purchase at Tesco. It was a good value deal.
Comparing these two books is like comparing a McDonald’s burger with haute cuisine. The Hunger Games is a quick read children’s book, with little characterisation and lots of action. It’s a simple first person narrative with a straightforward chronological structure. The characters are two dimensional – especially Peeta, the love sick fat boy, but the story is pacy and exciting, and there are two more volumes which I expect to be just as gripping and, from a literary perspective, unadventurous.
Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child is quite different. It’s high art, and tells the stories of a series of intellectuals, poets and writers over a period of 100 years, all of whose lives have been affected in one way or another by the homosexual relationship with which the story starts. It begins as a sort of updated Brideshead Revisited, set in the upper class world of Oxford and stately homes before and between the wars, and ends in this millennium. It’s beautifully written – Hollinghurst writes in a clear and simple style and his characters and dialogue are credible and interesting. There are no fancy narrative tricks, no linguistic showing off, just plain straightforward good story telling. It’s a real novel, which exposes the failings of middle class England with humour and precision, though for me rather too sexually explicit in places.