Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, 2008)
Summary: Twenty- four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives. In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see. Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
This one had been sitting on my shelf since November. Back then, I had gone to a conference, and Suzanne Collins was signing copies of the book. I didn’t know what to think of the book, but I had read her Underland Chronicles series (starting backwards actually with book 5) and just loved them! When I went to get The Hunger Games signed I just kept gushing to her about that series and how much I enjoyed them. And then, over the months, I kept hearing at work and online that Hunger Games was the book to read. But I kept hesitating, not wanting to believe in the hype. Finally, last week, I gave in and finally read it. I definitely needed a break from all the vampire/werewolf/paranormal teen stuff that I had been reading almost nonstop since early Spring. At first, I didn’t know what to make of the book. I found myself comparing it to Graceling: here is this strong-willed girl, forced to carry out a task, in a different world from our own; with a handsome male counterpart that she resists at every twist and turn. As I was reaching the end of the book, I found myself thinking, “I need to get my hands on Catching Fire,” because I knew I would want to start reading it right away. I had no idea how the book was going to end and how it would set up the plot for the next one. In the end, I realized I could not escape the spell that Suzanne Collins put on me. She is such a superb writer.
It is so hard to write a review of this book without giving away anything. I am so glad I went into this not knowing anything; all I knew was that there was a televised death match between young people that was televsied for everyone to see in a far-off dystopian future. It was so satisfying to read and discover all the characters and the places and to imagine the arena of the Hunger Games. I so enjoyed Haymitch, as surly of a character as he was. I am hoping there will be more of him in the next one. During the scenes with Peeta and Katniss I kept yelling, “Come on Katniss! Love him! You know you want to!” But I can see why she was so confused, and I truly wasn’t mad or frustrated at her; I wanted to know more about her to understand her choices. I’m glad Gale was not entirely forgotten by Katniss and that he was still in her thoughts, and adding to her confusion. One of the more disturbing and heartbreaking aspects of the story was the scene where it was just Katniss and Peeta, against all those rabid “dogs.” When it was revealed what they were I was horrified. Oh, Ms. Collins, you do know how to throw a good wrench into the story, and you do it so well.
I know I may not have been overly enthusiastic about my more recent reads, but I will go with the crowd on this one and definitely recommend it. I started Catching Fire this week and just this morning I found myself waiting in line at my local Jamba Juice, with my nose in the book, not really paying attention to what was going on around me. Now that is a sign of a good book!