“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Summary from Goodreads:
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, the shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh 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 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 weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
I read The Hunger Games for the first time over a year ago. I absolutely loved the first book ( and enjoyed the series) because it was so different than what I was reading. Actually it was pretty different from anything I had read up until that point. I was really excited to re-read the series. I’ve read so much YA lit in the last year including really good dystopian lit and the not so good dystopian lit. I was very interested to see how the book stands up now that I have a better “background”.
The world building is solid which is essential in any good Science Fiction/Dystopian book. There’s never “information vomit”, a massive unloading of information that makes the reader’s head explode. Instead, it’s done gradually throughout the book to paint the picture of how bleak Panem really is. There are short anecdotes sprinkled within the story that fill in the blanks of Katniss’ life. You can start seeing how everything fits together. [The anecdotes are great but I’m a bit worried about how that will translate onto the screen.]
The some of characters in this book are really tricky. For the most part you don’t really get to know anyone which is really unfortunate. Sure, Gale, Prim, the other tributes are developed as well as they can be considering the amount of ‘screen time’ they get but they really aren’t brought to life. Since I’ve already read the books before I had a difficult time keeping everything straight and trying to focus on what I know during this book.
You can’t overlook the ‘romance’ of the story. I do have to say that it is done incredibly well. Peeta and Katniss’ actions all appear and feel normal and natural (Yes, the reader knows how awkward Katniss feels with it all but that too is part of natural teen interaction.) Whatever, I’ll admit it…there were so many times I was grinning while reading about how Peeta and Katniss interact. It’s just too cute. Squeee Ahem. Moving on….
I have to give major kudos to Collins about Peeta. I technically shouldn’t like him. He doesn’t do much . He’s too perfect. The reader really doesn’t get to know him. All we see of him is him being nice. That’s really not enough to make me like him but somehow I’m smitten with him. WHY?!
I was a bit blown away by the fact that the book is still able to have the same emotional impact as reading it for the first time. I knew what was going to happen. I knew who dies and who lives. I might not remember some of the finer details but I knew the big things. Despite all that I was still as emotionally moved as I was the first time. Katniss volunteering as tribute? I teared up. The end when Peeta realizes that Katniss was just playing it up for the cameras? I really did feel like I had the wind knocked out of me when his heart broke. Brilliantly done Miss Collins.
The bottom line? Very well done. I can’t recommend this book enough.