Saturday, August 4, 2012
YA Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins (Goodreads/Website)
Number of Pages: 418 pages
Publication Date: September 2008
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Young-Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Series or Stand-Alone: The Hunger Games Trilogy Book #1
Book Disclosure Purchased from National Bookstore
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used to be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.
When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.
To say that this book was excellent would be an understatement. The Hunger Games was gripping, in-depth and a pulse-pounding page turner.
In the novel The Hunger Games, author Suzanne Collins had creatively taken the concept of reality television show and added a unique spin to it by portraying it as a gruesome and nightmarish event that threatens the entire population.
Set in a dystopian post apocalyptic era on the country of Panem (believed to be the ruins of North America), twelve districts are treated as slaves producing commodities and serving the ruling city, the cruel and dominant Capitol.
Annually, the Capitol stages The Hunger Games which is a grim reminder to the twelve districts that they are totally at the mercy of the ruling city and the event also reinforces the Capitol’s dominance on the whole country of Panem. Each year, the Capitol draws out a name of a boy and a girl from each of the twelve districts and they are forced to compete in a battle royal to the death where only one will be left standing. The Hunger Games span over a week and is broadcast on national television.
The story unfolds with Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year-old girl living in District Twelve who, after the death of her father in a mine explosion, had taken it upon herself to look after her mother and her little sister Prim. Her little sister meant the world to Katniss so when Prim was chosen in the lottery to be a part of The Hunger Games, Katniss bravely stepped up to volunteer as the representative of District Twelve for her sister’s sake.
I loved The Hunger Games for a number of reasons. Since I started reading the book, author Suzanne Collins had grabbed me from the first page and it sucked me in and didn’t let go ever since .Although the book was a plot-driven novel, one of the primary reasons why I loved this book was the central character of the protagonist Katniss Everdeen. In the beginning she may come to the reader as someone who was only strong, brave, responsible but cold and aloof. But then as you read through you discover the real Katniss, the girl who was intelligent, capable, compassionate and kind-hearted. I loved how Suzanne Collins had used the first person narrative because the readers were given a wonderful insight on what goes through Katniss’ mind and her reactions. Her thoughts and feelings were so vivid and palpable that it paved way for her development as a multi-layered character. As the story goes on you discover that deep inside she has her own inner struggles to fight with, and then at times she can also be vulnerable. As a reader, I can’t help but sympathize for the past that keeps haunting her. The way Katniss’s doubted her ability to survive, and second guessed herself and who to trust made her so human and I think that it was one of the key factors which made me connect and relate with her.
Suzanne Collins had also showcased a wonderful ensemble of secondary characters that were just as interesting and well-rounded as Katniss. I loved Peeta Meelark because he was such a different character. He’s so honest and I admire him because he doesn’t pretend to be someone he’s not and he was even man enough to admit that Katniss was stronger than him. I loved the fact that he was so unselfish and that even with death as a consequence, he was even willing to sacrifice his life in order for Katniss to stay alive.
Most importantly, I think that the most remarkable thing about this book was that that the story was simply very well-written. The story was so original and unique that it makes the story so unpredictable and exciting. The Hunger Games had the right blend of action, drama, love and suspense. The ending was clever and unexpected and made me want to know what will happen next.
Suzanne Collins is a superb writer for taking the simple concept of reality television and making it into this wonderful world that is The Hunger Games. She had also utilized every aspect of reality TV (sponsors, interviews, make-up) which added much to the development of the plot. She cleverly mirrored our society’s reaction to reality TV show by describing how the people of Panem have different mind-set with regards to The Hunger Games. How she described the different attitudes of the representatives towards The Hunger Games was a clear picture of that. And although the theme used was a dark one, the book turned out to be a powerful moving story. It was a very human book in a sense that although the book dealt with depression, hunger, poverty, The Hunger Games was also a story of honor, of survival, of love, of compassion and friendship. This gave what might have been a dark and gory story its human touch.
The Hunger Games is simply a wonderful book and has become one of my favorites. For anyone who hasn’t read it, I highly recommend this book. It’s really worth every single penny that you’ll pay for it.