Book No: 52
Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
No. of Pages: 374
The Hunger Games is an amazing post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel set in Panem, the former USA. This nation is ruled by The Capitol and surrounded by the 12 districts. In an effort to wield control over the Districts an annual competition called The Hunger Games is held, in which one girl and one boy from each District competes in a fight to the death, which is televised night and day during the competition. When 16 year old Katniss Everdeen’s little sister is chosen for the games she steps forward to take her place; Katniss does this knowing that she is probably going to die.
This is a concept that has been explored in many different novels over the years. It’s a bit of 1984 with a dash of The Running Man and a heaping serving of Survivor. What really sells this book though is Katniss. She is a fighter long before she is chosen for the games. She is the sole means of food for her family, hunting against the rules, dealing in the black market, a strong female protagonist who is not going down without a fight. By using her survival skills and forming an alliance with Peeta, the other contestant from her district, Katniss becomes a challenger in the games. Along the way she is also confronted with her feelings for Peeta as well as those of the boy she left behind at home.
I love that this book is written for Young Adults in a way that is exciting and engaging, while at the same time opening their eyes to injustice without it seeming like a history lesson. So many topics are touched upon; a nation filled with so many poor and a handful of very rich, the use of fear to govern, Big Brother watching every move, even the issue of our addiction to ‘reality tv’ and questioning how real it is. To have a female character that uses her brains to survive, without losing her humanity, is a great achievement, although the games and deaths are very, very brutal. The burgeoning love story between Katniss and Peeta is handled well, with just enough romance to not be mawkish and the book doesn’t wrap everything up completely, since the last line is: END OF BOOK ONE.
The tiniest of complaints is at times some of the writing feels a little repetitious, but that is a small criticism for a truly riveting story.
Now I need to get Catching Fire, book 2.