Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games (#1)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 31, 2008
Summary: Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Review: There is no denying, Suzanne Collins trilogy, beginning with The Hunger Games, has become a cultural phenomenon. Growing up, I can remember the excitement I felt, waiting for the latest Harry Potter novel or movie to be released. Today, with the Twilight series, Hunger Games, the Millennium Trilogy, even Fifty Shades of Grey, it seems like every series is advertised as the next big phenomenon. I was hesitant to dive into The Hunger Games, but when a friend provided me with a copy, I decided to give it a shot.
The novel takes place in the nation of Panem. Basically, North America has been divided into 12 districts, each serving a specific economic purpose. Each year, in commemoration of the revolution and probably more in an attempt to remind the citizens of the leaders' power, each district is required to send one boy and one girl to participate in a televised battle to the death known as The Hunger Games.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a skilled hunter from the coal mining district 12, finds herself thrust into these games when she volunteers to enter in place of her younger sister. She will have to face career tribute, people who have specifically trained to compete in the games, so she is almost certain the battles will result in her death. Her hunting skills come in handy, however, and with the guidance of Haymitch, a drunken winner of a previous games, she soon becomes a serious contender. But survival isn't easy. To win, she is forced to make life or death decisions, face taking the lives of other, and risk betraying relationships.
I was really entertained by this novel. The opening, where much of the backstory and preparation take place, was a bit slow. That being said, the story kicks into an unputdownable gear as the games actually begin. Like any good reality television program, I found myself sucked into the action as it was presented. I did feel that the characters were not as deeply realized as they could have been, but as the first novel in a trilogy, I expect they become more layered in later installments. While The Hunger Games is by no means perfect, it does successfully entertain while still providing clever commentary on social and cultural conventions.
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