With a movie production on the way many are scrambling to finish The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins has crafted a dystopian adventure that while geared toward young adults still manages to entice adults as well.
The North American continent has been split into twelve districts, each reporting to the Capitol. As payment for an unsuccessful rebellion each district must submit a young boy and girl to compete in the televised Hunger Games. Chosen as the district 12 tributes, Katniss and Peeta enter the kill or be killed competition.
The Hunger Games is a disturbingly engrossing tale. Even though it is marketed for young adults I wouldn’t recommend anyone under the age of 12 read it. The games are violent, pitting each tribute against the other and forcing them to kill to stay alive. In a generation obsessed with reality television, where shows like Survivor still dominate the ratings, The Hunger Games hits like a slap in the face. The gladiator style fighting amongst the tributes is shocking. The teenagers fight and kill with disgusting ease while the rest of the districts watch the television with rapt attention.
Collins has established a wonderful setting with fantastic twists and turns that keeps the readers hooked. The unpredictable atmosphere of the games makes each chapter unique. The characters are realistic with flaws and astounding grit. Katniss’s stubborn determination and skill at survival as well as Peeta’s loyalty had me pulling my hair out and cheering at the same time. Katniss is a refreshing protagonist. She is a strong young woman used to hard times and fiercely loyal to her sister. Her uncertainty and fear, as well as her utter determination to stay alive without losing herself to the games is humanizing. The first person narrative is well done, and gives the reader unfiltered access to her sarcastic mind.
From the descriptions of the 12 districts to the glittering Capitol, Collins astounds the reader with a fully fledged world that resembles our own just enough to be disconcerting. I often found myself trying to identify how each district applied to current day America. The supporting characters are products of their districts. They have their own issues and personalities that come across strongly, but it is still in keeping with the first person narrative.
The Hunger Games will draw both boys and girls as well as adults into the dystopian future. The rebellious undertones are a subtle clue about what is to come, and the romance while prevalent isn’t embarrassing and is appropriate for young adults. Katniss’s emotional maturity is frustrating at times, but is accurate for the her age in the novel as well as the intended audience. The gripping novel is engrossing and once started is nearly impossible to put down.
While The Hunger Games has a distinct ending, the storyline is still incomplete and readers will no doubt be running to the store to purchase Catching Fire and Mockingjay the final two books in the trilogy.
May the odds be ever in your favor