Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
May Contain Spoilers
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the other districts in line by forcing them to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight-to-the-death on live TV.
One boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and sixteen are selected by lottery to play. The winner brings riches and favor tohis or her district. But that is nothing compared to what the Capitol wins: one more year of fearful compliance with its rule. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her impoverished district in the Games.
But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Acclaimed writer Suzanne Collins, author of the New York Times bestselling Underland Chronicles, delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this stunning novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.
Wow is about all I can say about this book. I have been avoiding it, mainly because of all of the hype about it. I didn’t think it could ever live up to my expectations of it. Not ever. Then I recommended it to a friend because the series is complete (she only wanted to read a complete series), and she loved it. I sent my niece a copy, too, because she was on break from classes. She read it, loved it, and quickly gobbled up the rest of the books. Then, she threatened to spoil the ending of Mockingjay if I didn’t start reading them pronto. Yikes! That’s playing so dirty, and she knows it! She wants to talk about the book, though, so I dutifully started reading, because she knows how much I hate spoilers, and I know she doesn’t make idle threats. How could she do that to the nicest auntie in the world, a loving auntie who has sent her several Kindle books just because?
Because everyone in the blogosphere but me has already read the book, I’ll keep this brief and spoiler free, and I will only touch on a few of the elements that I enjoyed about it. First, I loved the setting. There is something about a dystopian novel that never fails to draw me in and hold me enraptured. Katniss lives in the ruins of North America, in District 12, and every day is a struggle to find enough food to keep her mother and younger sister from starving. Katniss is a crack shot with a bow, and it’s been her job since her father’s death in a mining accident to keep her family fed. Survival is something that Katniss excels at, and as her hunting and foraging skills improve, life becomes a little easier. They will never have quite enough, but the dark days of eminent starvation seem to be in the past.
When she is forced to enter the Hunger Games, an annual televised event hosted by the Capital, Katniss finds herself at the threshold of death once again. The Hunger Games pit “tributes” from each district against each other, in a brutal battle to the death. Only one victor is allowed to live, and the prize is one worth dying for: food for your family and your district. Refusing to participate isn’t an option, and everyone in Panem is required to watch the combat play out on TV. Think that would intimidate the populace and keep them towing the line? You betcha!
Katniss’ narrative kept me totally engaged in this story. I find the concept a bit repulsive, and I think another reason I was avoiding the book was because I was afraid that the fighting would be sensationalized, graphic, and brutal. That’s not what this is about, though. It’s about one young girl and her unwavering desire to live. She made a promise to her sister to try her hardest to survive, and she is going to keep her word. Her spirit is what captivated me. She hates the killing games, the constant threat of death eats away at her, and she can’t trust anyone. Everyone in the arena is out for the same thing – to live, to survive, to go back home.
If you haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s the characters that give this book life, and the whole concept of the games and the structure of Katniss’ cold and unyielding world are fascinating. I want to learn more about them. The tension is sky high, too, and guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat, from beginning to end. That’s a difficult task to accomplish, but Suzanne Collins manages it with ease. I wonder if the other two installments are as good?
Review copy purchased from Amazon