Back of the Book – 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 girl and one boy 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 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 death 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 and weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Review – The Hunger Games has become a hot topic with it’s rising popularity as a YA (young adult) novel and the upcoming release of the theatrical adaptation in 2012 starring Jennifer Lawrence (Actress, Academy Award Nominee). I will not be the first to say that this novel deserves its new found popularity. It’s a little bit of Battle Royal and 1984 with the added flare of today’s reality show craze.
I’m just going to say it straight up, who doesn’t find the idea of a fight to the death exciting? While most people today would turn away in the disgust at the prospect of watching a reality show depicting just that, in The Hunger Games people living in the Capitol anticipate these games each year.
When I picked up the book I didn’t expect to be truly entertained until the games started, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself wracked in suspense from the beginning. As a reader you only know as much as the heroine Katniss Everdeen does, so it’s a very immersive experience because as she’s sitting on a train wondering what the firetruck is next, you’re wondering the same thing. Every step along the way you’re discovering this new world with her, which is a feeling that readers want to experience—few things are better for an avid reader than getting lost in a book.
The Hunger Games does have a romance aspect to it, but the plot never falls secondary to the romance. If I had to say it simply, sometimes Katniss just has bigger shit to deal with. She’s a character that I think could provide girls with a much stronger literary role model
since Bella Swan has them crying in their bedrooms and listening to Evanescence. If Katniss needs to get something done she has no problem doing it herself. She isn’t a princess waiting for someone to save her, she’s saving herself. That being said, for readers who happen to be helpless romantics like myself, you won’t be disappointed as the novel reaches a nice healthy medium between the romance and action.
If I had to say anything negative about the novel it would be that a lot of characters are introduced and sometimes it’s difficult to keep up. However, this may also just be because if I don’t find a character particularly interesting I tend to ignore their role. Thankfully Collins doesn’t superfluously add characters and I found that each character, however minor they seemed, later in the series had a significant purpose or was part of a major event.
Like most YA novels the writing wasn’t itself didn’t seem particularly noteworthy, this really is a novel driven by plot and development of a few main characters. And best of all, Collins isn’t shy about giving gruesome details, so people tuning into for the action will have a lot to look forward to.