Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: Doesn't matter; you won't put it down!
I have only recently been introduced to Suzanne Collins' work and have thoroughly enjoyed everything of hers I have read. My first experience with her was the YA fantasy novel Gregor the Overlander. While I could easily say I really liked that novel, that is nothing compared to how I feel about The Hunger Games. I finished this book within hours of getting my hands on it. I couldn't put it down even to go to bed!
Set in the future where most of North America has been destroyed, Collins created a dystopia called Panem that consists of The Capitol and its twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is home to all of the affluent and powerful people while the residents of the districts live only to serve The Capitol. As punishment for a rebellion that took place before the events of the book, The Capitol holds an event called The Hunger Games every year. For the game, one boy and one girl are chosen from each district to participate in a televised fight to the death for everyone's "entertainment."
Our heroine the Katniss Everdeen, a brave and resourceful sixteen-year-old from District 12, who volunteers to participate in the games when her twelve-year-old sister's name is called. Having replaced her sister, Katniss travels to The Capitol along with her district's male participant, Peeta Mellark. Once there, she and Peeta work with Haymitch Abernathy, the only living person from their district who has survived the Hunger Games, to develop a strategy to survive and win the games. Once in the arena, Katniss discovers that she has to fear not only her competitors, but The Capitol's antics as well. To make the games more exciting for the viewing audience, The Capitol will create dangers, such as forest fires, for the participants. What makes the audience grow bored? A lack of deaths. It is reality TV at its sickest.
It's not just the games and Katniss' struggle to survive that captivated me. I was also intrigued during the journey to The Capitol and her time preparing for the games. Collins does an excellent job of presenting The Capitol as both this seemingly ideal world and a scary, corrupt, and twisted nightmare land at the same time. Katniss loves the attention and all of the fine linens, showers, and food The Capitol provides her, but she is also fully aware that The Capitol intends for her to either die a violent death or send all of her competitors to a violent death. They don't care one way or the other as long as it's entertaining. It is this inner struggle between wanting to survive and not wanting to kill that makes Katniss' tale so gripping. It is established at the beginning of the novel that she is a hunter, so she does know how to kill to survive, but she has never before killed a human being. Yet, she doesn't want to die either.
Katniss is not the only interesting character. Peeta, her fellow District 12 competitor, is a wonferfully complex character with seemingly useless talents that come in surprisingly handy. Haymitch, their strategist, reveals himself to be a shrewd and intelligent man who plays an even bigger role in their survival than even Katniss and Peeta would have imagined. Even minor characters such as Cinna, Katniss' stylist (yes, the participants are given stylists before being sent out to kill one another) proved to be interesting characters that I wanted to know more about.
As I said before, I couldn't put this book down. I began reading it one evening around 10:00 PM and imagine my shock when I looked up and saw that it was 5:00 AM! Even more surprising, I didn't care! I wanted to finish the book.
The book is the first part of a series. I will be getting the second book, Catching Fire, this weekend and the third book, Mockingjay, is scheduled to be released August 24, 2010. Guess what I'll be doing that day.