Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: Hunger Games Trilogy 1
Genre: Young Adult Dystopia
Release Date: October 1, 2008
So after months of seeing nothing but blog post after blog post for the release of Mockingjay, the third book in The Hunger Games Trilogy, after hearing a very close friend rave about the series, I caved. I went out and bought the first book, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
You may be wondering why I had to cave at all. Well, I’ll tell you. I’m a person that can become almost violently opposed to something that’s become so popular. I’m honestly not even sure why. I would imagine some psychologist could come up with a reason, like I’m a non-conformist who likes to walk her own path and that I have a compelling need to rebel against…something. Or perhaps it’s something else entirely – maybe a subject for a different post. But it’s really beside the point. The point is that I was two years late in starting this series. And I just finished the first one. What follows may be my somewhat rambling, meandering thoughts, so bear with me.
In the post-apocalyptic world, where North America once lay, is the country of Panem. With it’s shining Capitol at the center of twelve districts. The Capitol rules all. The very lives of the people are not even under their own control, they live and die by the Capitol’s generosity and greed.
Seventy-five years ago there were thirteen districts, and there was a rebellion. The districts rose up against the rule of the Capitol. And were squashed. District 13 was destroyed utterly and the other twelve live an even more bleak existence. Since then, the Capitol, to remind the people of their absolute power and the futility of dissent, has required that each district provide two tributes. One girl and one boy between the ages of twelve and eighteen are taken to compete in the Hunger Games. A nationally televised event that pits these children against each other, and only one can come out alive.
When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her place in the Seventy-Fourth Hunger Games she regards it as a death sentence. Having to feed and provide for her mother and younger sister for the last several years has made Katniss persevere. She already knows how to fight to live, how to endure difficulties, and it will take every inch of her abilities in order to gain success. But if she’s going to win, Katniss is going to face hard decisions. Life against love. Survival against humanity. And at the end of it all, if she actually manages to succeed, will she be someone she can live with?
Because I know there are people out there that haven’t read these yet, I’m going to try to remain spoiler free. I really believe that this series is one that’s best enjoyed as it unfolds. Suzanne Collins did a wonderful job of pulling me along and wringing emotions out of me, from smiles, to tears, to outright shock.
Katniss has had a hard life. She lost her father quite a while before the story begins and because her mother was so stricken with grief, it fell to Katniss to make sure that her family lived. She became the main provider, going outside the electrified fences that surround the district in order to hunt. Learning to trade and bargain. Selling and buying in order to keep her sister from ever knowing the depth of despair she had. She’s a strong heroine, but she’s not perfect.
She makes mistakes, misreads people and their objectives – even when it seems so clear to everyone else – and she can be exceptionally hard-headed. I admit that there were times when I wanted to shake her to make her see the truth of something, but in the end all it did was endear her more to me. Katniss is a heroine you can root for. Flaws and all.
The relationships between Katniss and everyone around her was something I truly enjoyed. For all her rough edges, Katniss has a very big, soft heart and you could easily see that in her thoughts and conversations. From her family, to her mentor for the Games, to her fellow tribute, even other competitors in the arena, each interaction brought more…just more of everything. There were several times I was moved to tears and sometimes I was smiling through them.
Beyond the characters, which I absolutely fell in love with, the world surrounded me in its embrace, holding me tight and showing me everything. I felt involved there, connected to the people and the place. More than anything I wanted to fight alongside them, with them, for them. Ms. Collins paints a vivid picture of a dark and gritty world, brushed with realism that, quite honestly, hit me like a punch to the gut.
With my emotions, frequently, running high I raced through The Hunger Games anxious to see what would happen next. It kept me on the edge of my seat, staying up late into the night. In fact, I finished it around midnight on a Friday, fell asleep and woke up to immediately go to the store to buy the next two. Which I promptly read.
The Hunger Games is a dark, gritty, emotional story filled with pain, joy, loss and love. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking to get lost in a vivid world filled with characters that make you feel and a plot that doesn’t let you go.
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