Monday, 7 January 2013

Review: 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, 2008, Scholastic Press, $17.99, hardbound, 374 pages. Category/Genre: science fiction. Cover: evocative and intriguing. Where we got it: Books-A-Million. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, & probably anywhere else you can think of.

This fast-paced book begins a trilogy which by now is quite familiar to both readers and movie-goers alike. But for those few unfamiliar with the series, it begins in a place called District 12, which was once Appalachia. Aside from the Capitol, all of the 12 districts exist in poverty and suffering. The people of District 12 are starving, and must resort to desperate measures in order to feed themselves.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who has her mother and younger sister to feed, spends every spare minute she has hunting in the woods, which is forbidden by law; she could be shot and killed for this trespass. With her is her friend Gale Hawthorne, who also has a family to keep alive. The two have been best friends for years and know how to work the Hob, their district's black market, where hunted goods can be sold.

The book opens on the day of the reaping. This is the day on which a boy and a girl from the ages of 12 to 18 will be selected from each district to compete in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are the Capitol's sadistic way of reminding the poor districts who's in power. The 24 tributes chosen by lot will fight to the death in order to try and win food for their starving communities. To add humiliation to their pain, the Capitol forces the tributes to preen for the camera and act as if being selected is an honour. 

And for some tributes, it is: certain districts train their youth from day one so that when they get to the arena, they have a distinct advantage over other tributes.

Of course, Katniss ends up in the arena, but that isn't the most exciting part of the book; the most exciting parts are the many twists and turns Collins skillfully interjects throughout the story. Action drives the book, though it is not just physical action – there is plenty of that, and some of it is quite gruesome, so be prepared – there is also a plethora of emotional action. Collins creates such depth of character that you feel as if you know everyone in the book, even those players with a minor role. She doesn't hold back, and she has a gift for making every tiny detail important. 

If you like this one, try: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

No comments:

Post a Comment