The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I received The Hunger Games from my wonderful sister-in-law for Christmas, and I finished it in two days. I would have finished it sooner, but I thought I should sleep and eat instead.
Katniss Everdeen lives in a poor coal-mining community in District 12 of the nation of Panem. Her world is turned upside-down when her little sister is chosen by lottery to participate in the annual Hunger Games, and she volunteers to go in her place. The Hunger Games is a televised fight to the death between twenty-four teenagers, designed to be a warning of what will happen to those who rebel against the Capitol government. As a participant or “tribute” she will be placed in an arena where the Gamemakers can manipulate the weather, trigger natural disasters, or just kill her at will. Everyone in Panem will be watching the games, and the only way to win is to be the last tribute alive.
The book is written in first person from Katniss’ point of view. As a reader, I could sense Katniss’ denial as she prepared for the games. When Katniss first arrives for the games, it feels almost like a beauty pageant. She is groomed and primped by professional stylists and coached on how to interview and smile on camera. As the training process goes on, it feels more like the experience of an athlete at the Olympic games. Everyone will be watching this event, rooting for their district, and Katniss feels the pressure to perform and win sponsors. But when the games actually begin, the sick reality of the games sinks in. If she moves from her place before the opening bell sounds, she will be blown up by a landmine. This is Survivor playing for keeps.
The Hunger Games is a compulsive read. The action never stops, and the plot keeps you hungry for the next page. But for me it was the characters that were truly unforgettable. Collins does a great job of giving the reader a distinctive picture of each character. Even the minor characters are vivid in my mind. One of the other competitors is a twelve-year-old girl, and long after I shut the book, I was picturing little Rue singing to the birds in the arena.
I could not be torn away from the story, and when the book ended, I immediately went out and bought the sequel. I’m not finished with it yet, but it will probably be my first review of the new year. I highly recommend The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins is a very talented writer, and I look forward to the conclusion of this series.