The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I was not going to read this book. In fact, I kind of dug my heels in about it. I’m a grownup – I don’t need no stinkin’ trendy YA books. I finally relented, very reluctantly, under pressure from both my book club and my 15-year old son.
Fine, I’ll give it a shot. But I won’t like it (just like Twilight . . . pfft.)
Well, you can probably guess what happened. I liked it. In spite of myself. Which just goes to show, don’t judge a book by its cover – or its genre, for that matter.
As I may be the last person standing to read this book, the following synopsis is probably unnecessary, but humor me:
It is an unspecified time in the future. North America has been wiped out following war, flood, famine, etc., and a new land called Panem has taken its place, with the Capitol running things surrounded by twelve districts. Each year, just to keep the people in line, the Capitol requires each district to offer up two children – a boy and a girl – between the ages of 12 and 18, chosen by random drawing at a ceremony known as the Reaping, to enter into a bloody death match that typically lasts a few weeks and is televised to the whole of Panem, live. This death match is known as The Hunger Games, and each “tribute,” as the child contestants are known, is dropped into a carefully chosen arena, which typically consists of some sort of vast wilderness, and must try to kill as many of his or her opponents as possible while avoiding being killed him- or herself – using wits, weapons, and whatever else is available. The game continues until only one tribute is left alive, who is then named the Victor of that year’s Hunger Games.
Is it violent? Yes, but actually not terribly graphically so; killings and deaths are described in rather general terms, so a lot is left to the imagination. I’m not sure what about this appeals so much to the young adult crowd – is the actual violence, allowing teens to live out their hormone-driven anger vicariously? Is it the competition aspect? or are the characters real enough that teens are able to connect on some level? In any case, I thought the storyline was very imaginatively conceived and executed, and it was well written. It really is quite suspenseful (although some of it is predictable from an adult’s standpoint, I think), and I found myself cringing and gasping throughout the story, wanting to know what was going to happen next. Also, I really love the fact that the protagonist/hero in the story is a female – an excellent point to make to both male and female adolescents.
This is the first in a trilogy, and the end compels one to read on in the next book. Hopefully I will get around to it before too long, but for now, I’m committed to several other books first.