October 07, 2011

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

After hearing so many people rave about this book, I knew I had to read it. I had read one of Collins' Gregor books before and enjoyed it so I knew this couldn't be too bad. Not to mention I absolutely love dystopian novels.

The Hunger Games is set in a United States far in the future. Only it's not the United States anymore, its Panem, a controlling government city surround by twelve districts. Katniss is a member of district 12, best known for its coal mining and starving citizens. When her sister is picked as one of the tributes for the Hunger Games (an event put on by the government every year that has a boy and a girl from each district fight to the death until on one is left remaining) she selflessly volunteers to go instead. With the boy tribute Peeta they head to the Capitol where they will be trained for the event and gussied up for everyone to see and place bets on.

Advertised as star-crossed lovers Peeta and Katniss are quick favorites. They clean up nice and become a quick hit with the sponsors who are allowed to give them gifts during the game. They are dropped with the other tributes in a field and quickly have to kill, be killed, or get out of there to plan how to survive. When the games start turning brutal and death seems to be imminent they must stick together in order to survive. The problem is, the rules say only one of them can win.

There's a lot more to this story than I could ever summarize without giving away important plot details. It is full of depth and frightening, yet intriguing ideas. Katniss as a character is ok. She's very standoffish and since the story is told from her in the present tense that can make for hard narrating at times. Peeta is genuine and you find yourself rooting for him, but Collins does a good job of not making you trust him fully. The rest of the characters only have small parts so there isn't much detail about a majority of them. This is probably a positive aspect as you don't care too much when they die.

Collins is a pretty good writer. That being said, I didn't care for the first person present tense in this novel. Its never one of my favorite tenses because it seems awkward and doesn't lend itself to describing things very well. While we can get a faint gist of Kat's world from her eyes, it isn't as much as I wanted to see. She has the makings of a very interesting world and human destiny, loads more information would be appreciated.

This is a great book that shouldn't just be limited to juvenile fiction. I think all ages can enjoy this book; especially those who favor dystopian fiction. There are a few flaws in the book but not enough to keep it from being a thoroughly enjoyable read.

The Hunger Games
Copyright 2008
374 pages

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