The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

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Publication date – October 1, 2008

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel 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, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, 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 will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Thoughts: As a fan of dystopias, I was sure I’d like this book, especially after hearing nonstop good reviews for it. I’m very happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed once while reading this one.

Well, that’s a lie. I was. Once. When I had to stop reading it because I had work to do. But that’s not the book’s fault, and I won’t hold that against it.

This is definitely a book you feel uncomfortale going into, because you know that if you root for anyone other than Katniss, you’re entirely likely to be disappointed. Bitterly. In a Battle Royale situation, where only one can win, pinning your hopes on anyone who isn’t the main character is just foolish.

Which is the book’s main flaw, really. The actions scenes were wonderfully tense, and Katniss didn’t escape without injury, but when you’re reading about a kill-or-be-killed situation from the first-person point of view, you know in advance how it’s going to end. You know that Katniss will live. It can take away from the tension at moments, because even though you can recognize the danger she’s in, you also know, in the back of your mind, that she’ll find a way to survive. It’s less about faith in a character and more about predestination.

That being said, I think this story would have suffered had it not been from Katniss’s point of view, so this is definitely a moment of “your mileage may vary.”

There were, happily, some twists and turns thrown in to keep the reader interested. The development of alliances, the rule changes, and the omnipresent disgust you have to feel at the people who are watching teenagers beat each others’ brains out on live TV. I felt a definitely sense of satisfaction at Katniss and Peeta’s final “screw you” to the Capitol, which wasn’t at all overshadowed by the fact that I knew they’d make it out alive.

I closed this book wanting to open the next one immediately. Sadly, I don’t have a copy yet, so I’m going to have to wait to continue these adventures. I’ve got to say though, that they’re definitely adventures well worth continuing. I can see clearly what all the hype has been about!