(Cover picture courtesy of Wikipedia.)
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 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 survive, 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 weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
The Hunger Games is a book that has received quite a lot of hype from the media—and with good reason. Both boys and girls alike can relate to Katniss’s struggle for survival and her love for her family. Suzanne Collins has penned a well-written, fast-paced and engaging novel that certainly deserves to be remembered among the YA greats.
This novel is first and foremost a story of survival. Katniss is a believable (if not completely sympathetic) character with a good motivation: to survive so she can go back and take care of her family. The Hunger Games can also be seen as an allusion to the Roman Empire, what with its gruesome form of entertainment and the decadence of the Capitol while the districts suffer. Students of Roman history will also recognize names like Cinna, Flavius and Octavia. It can also be a commentary on how senseless violence is and the power of fear. The Capitol holds the Games to strike fear in the districts, yet the deaths of 23 children for the sake of it is senseless.
The Hunger Games can also be read as a love story, but this is the one part of the novel that falls flat for me. Peeta loves Katniss and will do anything to see her leave the arena, yet Katniss is prepared to kill him in order to survive. Even near the end, when she supposedly feels a bit of affection toward him, it does not ring true. It seems a bit rushed, like Suzanne Collins wanted to insert another subplot into her novel. Despite this ‘romance’, The Hunger Games is an excellent novel that lets you see it in a different light every time you read it.
I give this book 4/5 stars.