Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book Review: "The Hunger Games"

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
Published in 2008
Movie release date: March 23, 2012
My rating: 5 out of 5

In my old age (25), I often find myself dozing off when trying to read in bed after a certain time, usually about 11:30 or midnight. It's been a while since a novel kept me up until 2 a.m., but "The Hunger Games" did. And I would have stayed up reading indefinitely but I knew I had to get up at an all too early hour the next morning.

The first novel in the trilogy by Suzanne Collins takes place in Panem, a country founded on the remains of North America. The luxurious and prosperous Captiol -- in what used to be known as the Rockies -- is the government's center, while 12 much poorer districts make up the rest of the country. Decades ago, the districts waged war on the Capitol and lost. Now, to reinforce its power and quell any whisper of rebellion, the Captiol hosts the annual Hunger Games. At the reaping ceremony preceding the Games, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen from each district to battle in the Hunger Games, a barbaric fight to the death broadcast on live TV across Panem. The last of the 24 contestants left alive is declared the winner. Names are drawn at random and the teens get one entry for every year they've been eligible, but they can also "buy" rations of grain and oil in exchange for more entries in the drawing pot. This is not uncommon, because many are starving.

The novel focuses on 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives with her mother and sister in Panem's impoverished District 12 where the main industry is coal mining (it's located in what was formerly known as Appalachia). Katniss's father was blown to smithereens in a mine explosion, leaving her to provide for her younger sister and her mother, who was for a time immobolized by depression and unable to care for her daughters. Katniss is forced to sneak under the fence surrounding District 12 to the off-limits woods beyond and utilize her skills with a bow and arrow to shoot game to feed her family and trade for other goods. When Katniss's beloved 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place; she doesn't hesitate a moment to sacrifice her life so Prim can live. District 12 hasn't had a winner, or even a major contender, in the Hunger Games in years, but this spunky, quick-thinking, resourceful survivor is about to give Panem perhaps its most exciting Hunger Games in the event's more than 70-year history.

"The Hunger Games" has an innovative plot, endless page-turning action, a fascinating main character and even some romance. While the Scholastic-published book was likely originally intended for a young teen audience, Collins doesn't write down to her readers. And she doesn't spare details about the gory and violent Hunger Games. One of the books "The Hunger Games" brought to mind is George Orwell's classic, "1984." The Capitol is definitely adept at mind control and maintaining full power over its oppressed subjects.

I think "The Hunger Games" would appeal to anyone who enjoys science fiction, fantasy, adventure or post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels. Even romance readers would likely find "The Hunger Games" compelling. I highly recommend it! But beware, you might be so glued to the story unfolding in your hands that you stay up long past your bedtime...

Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds interesting. I'll keep it on my "to read" books.


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