After North America is destroyed, the country made in its wake is called Panem. This consists of an affluent capital and twelve districts that provide all of the work and support. Every year, as punishment for past disobedience, each district is required to provide two children from the age of twelve to eighteen to the Hunger Games, a televised battle to the death. The winner’s territory is given food for the year, while the other eleven starve. Sixteen-year-old Katniss lives in the poorest district, twelve. When her twelve-year-old sister is chosen to take part in the games, Katniss volunteers to go in her place, feeling that she will have a better chance of surviving. She and Peeta, the other tribute from district twelve, are whisked off to the capital, where their every move is videotapes and put on television, and then to the games themselves. Will Katniss emerge as the victor?
The Hunger Games is a fast paced novel that seems to draw its influence from everything from Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” to (obviously) Battle Royale. Its part dystopia, part survival story, and part action thriller. Katniss is a surprisingly complex heroine, and an engaging narrator. She enters the story with plenty of survival skills and talent with a bow and arrow (due to illegal poaching to feed her starving family), but the games are not an easy task even for her. Despite her slight edge, the author makes her work for every inch. One of the things that surprised me was that I enjoyed the sections about the capital almost as much as I enjoyed the more suspenseful moments in the game. I’m a sucker for dystopias. There’s just something about me that loves looking at the things that are the most disturbing about our society and projecting what will happen if in the future, these aspects develop extreme ways. The stark contrast of district twelve, where Katniss describes people starving on the streets, and the capital, where shallow people want for nothing, made me reflect on our own world’s uneven distribution of wealth and food. Another interesting aspect was how the games were viewed. For the people of district twelve, the hunger games are a torturous event where people watch their children die. For the people of the capital, it’s Survivor taken to the tenth level. Sure, innocent children may die terrible, bloody, painful deaths, but it’s all in good entertainment.
Honestly, The Hunger Games is one of the best books I’ve read all year. I loved the characters, the fast-paced plot, the romantic side-story, and fact that Suzanne Collins doesn’t take “young adult” to mean PG. The ending resolves the storyline of the games, but leaves things open for the sequel, which just happens to be coming out in a few weeks. I’m already looking forward to it.
Rating: five stars
Length: the print version is 384 pages
TBR Pile: 144 books
Similar Books: For dystopias written for children/young adults, check out Lois Lowry’s The Giver, Gathering Blue, and The Messenger. Another good one is M.T. Anderson’s Feed. Battle Royale is very a similar story and can be found in movie, manga and novel format.
Other books I've read by this author: This is my first
One more review left A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C Bunce. Will be posted tomorrow.
xposted to bookish and temporaryworlds