Sunday, May 15, 2011

Review: The Hunger Games

Hunter Games Cover
Author: Suzanne Collins {site}
Genre: Dystopian, YA
Format: Kindle
Published: 2008
Disclosure: Purchased at Amazon for Kindle.

Synopsis: {via 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.

This book got so many good reviews, I couldn't ignore it anymore. For a long time, I tried resisting YA lit, but it's just so impossible. YA has so many amazing titles. This one is no exception, it was amazing. Disturbing, but amazing. As the beginning of a trilogy, this book does not disappoint. It does what the first book in a trilogy should do, make you want more. It's so fantastic, I spend a whole day reading it (from about 10%) and when it was over, I went to Amazon and bought the other two books in the trilogy and immediately started reading Catching Fire when it was delivered to my Kindle. It was that good. I've not done that in a very long time and I would venture to say that this book, The Hunger Games, is the best book I've read for leisure in a very long time. Okay, okay, so, enough gushing.

The crew:

The characters, I loved them. They're so believable, you can't help but love them--Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Primrose & Rue, Thresh, Cinna & Portia, even Effie and Haymitch!  Katniss Everdeen, the narrator, is a wonderful character. You don't always like her, or her choices, and there are moments when you'll want to scream at her to open her eyes and see what's right in front of her face. The fact that she doesn't always see what's right there, or the subtext going on between the other characters, is what makes her believable. It's what makes her human and likable. She has emotions and you see them clearly in her reactions to what's happening. Suzanne Collins is so good she makes the reader able to see things through Katniss's eyes, and from Katniss's perspective, that Katniss herself is missing. It takes one very capable author, with a clear understanding of what she's doing, to pull that off.

The other characters are all fantastic too, but I think I want to talk about Gale and Peeta here. In her interactions and relationships with Gale and Peeta, you can see that Katniss is very much a sixteen year old girls. She misses things, she makes assumptions that someone with more years wouldn't make, she suffers a great deal of conflict where these two guys are concerned. You can't help but root for her, and for them, even though she can't end up with both of them. You feel her attraction to Gale, even if she denies that there's anything romantic between them.  You feel her conflict about Peeta, the boy with the bread. I admit, though, that I love a good love triangle!  This is a good love triangle.  Both Peeta and Gale are desirable, in different ways, and in her feelings about them, the reader is almost as torn as Katniss herself.

The Story:

Okay, this is where the disturbing comes in. This story is dark. It's not for the faint of heart. It's about children (ages 12-18) killing one another. They're doing it for survival, and for the entertainment of the people in the Capitol of Panem. This is not a feel good, happy-go-lucky book. It's a live or die book. There are some reviewers on Goodreads who took strenuous objection to the whole kids killing kids thing, and while it's very poignant, I agree that it's difficult to stomach. What I don't agree with is that this book should be skipped. This book is great, the setting is dark, but that's what makes it good literature. It has a point. The setting is very well thought out, the actions and reactions are very clear and often unsettling. You see why they're doing it, how it's received in the Districts, and the difference between the people dying to survive in the Districts from those in the Capitol, where there's wealth. This is dystopian and dystopian is not always pretty. As a matter of fact, it's never pretty. That's what makes dystopian what it is. It always has a point. Always. I suppose it comes down to this: If you can't stomach kids killing kids, don't read it. Otherwise, try.

The Verdict:

I loved it and recommend it to anyone.  Not just anyone who enjoys dystopian, but to everyone. I don't generally read dystopian and I loved this book. If you've been on the fence, and think you can deal with the unsettling themes, go get it.  You won't regret it.


1 comment:

  1. I so agree with you about wanting to yell at Katniss at times. But at the same time, I love that she's not a perfect person and have flaws. To me it makes her all the more loveable.