I have always been a sucker for books with good dystopian story lines and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins delivers on that very premise. Set in the ruins of North America, in the country of Panem, the story details the lives in the twelve districts that surround The Capitol with. The Hunger Games focuses on the story of a sixteen-year-old girl from District Twelve, named Katniss Everdeen, who’s life consists of hunting in the woods with her friend Gale in order to keep her mother and her little sister, Prim, alive. However, on the day that Katniss’ narration begins, survival is more important then ever. At two a celebration known as “The Reaping” occurs where a boy and a girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen will have their named picked from a bowl and made to fight for their survival in an arena where the Hunger Games will take place. Katniss has done everything to make sure Prim is safe, but when Prim’s name is drawn out of the bowl on Reaping Day, Katniss steps up to take her sister’s place as a tribute. Taken to the Capitol where she joins the other twenty-four tributes, Katniss is disgusted by the pageantry of what, in her mind, equates to an execution, and the politics that occur during her training days. Which is only made more complicated by the male tribute from her district, who may very well fancy her. As the Hunger Games progress Katniss is faced with morality and survival in this tale of what it truly means to be human.
My first impression of this book was not a good one. I had problems imagining the world that Collins was setting up and I wasn’t entirely sure that I got it straight. The first likened the world of Panem to an old Victorian village, especially District Twelve, and then later started to imagine a world similar to Equilibrium. Finally when I managed to get the combination of technology with the poverty stricken districts, I found the book quite enjoying and was really taken by the politicking and how Collins was able to weave it into a story that featured children.
Shortly after Part II began I found myself engrossed in the novel. I didn’t want to put it down with each new stratagem that was devised and each alliance that was made. In fact, one of the biggest successes I found of Part II was making me forget the politics of Part I and involving me in each move that the tributes made. It isn’t until Part III that the political aspect of the book picks up again leaving the reader starving–I know I can’t help the pun–to read the sequel Catching Fire.
The lasting impression that The Hunger Games gave me was that this is not Twilight. Certainly there’s action and adventure, even a love triangle, but its not the focus of the book. What this book gives readers is the haunting desire to question the motivations of a culture and think about what they would do if such a practice was implemented. As I approached the end of The Hunger Games, I found myself reminded of The Draft. The practices of Reaping Day reminded me so much of that practice at the very end that I couldn’t help but find myself desiring to read Catching Fire immediately, particularly since Katniss’ transformation is so beautifully written.
Final Grade: A-