The Hunger Games
So, admittedly, I’m a little late to the party on this one. I’ve seen the movie, had the book on my Kindle for over a year, but still didn’t read it until now. All I can say is: wow. I was hooked from the first chapter. Katniss Everdeen comes across the page and out into real life. At no point did I question the reality of this made up world, which is just a display of Suzanne Collins’ mastery. We start in District 12 of Panem (a name I can’t help but think has it’s roots in the word bread in foreign tongues). Katniss is a 15 year-old illegal hunter in the woods just outside the boundaries for her District. She hunts with her good friend Gale Hawthorne, so that they can provide for their fatherless, poor, starving families.
Katniss’ status as a survivor is set up well in the first chapter. Actually, I’m really amazed at the brevity and economy Collins implores in her writing. It is as if no word is wasted. Everything reflects on something else, revealing only the marks of a great writer. The Hunger Games start when Effie Trinket pulls names from two bowls, one for male, one for female. It is the 74th Hunger Games, a gladiator style reality show where children from all twelve Districts of Panem are chosen to fight each other to the death until there is one lone victor, who is conferred then with riches for the rest of their life.
Katniss is not scared for herself, but her sister, Primrose. It’s Prim’s first year being in the bowl, and having lost their father to a mine explosion and their mother to an ensuing depression Prim is more daughter than sister to Katniss. When Prim’s name is called Katniss doesn’t hesitate and volunteers to take her place. Her sole mission in life being to protect and comfort Prim. Alongside her is called Peeta Mellark, a boy she has a mysterious past with and who is the local baker’s son, and thus has never known the hunger and lengths of survival that Katniss has.
The two are paired with electric supporting characters, Haymitch their drunken mentor and sole victor ever from District 12, Effie, Cinna and Portia their stylists, as well as not so sympathetic characters such as President Snow, and pretty much everyone from the Capitol. So starts the fight to survive in an arena where nothing can be seen as safe.
The thing I loved about this book is I haven’t been so involved with a book, so on edge, so curious as to what is going to happen, since I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I even at one point broke down and asked my two sisters for general information as to what happens, since they had already read the entire trilogy, and this is with having seen the very faithful movie myself! Quite simply, read this book. Suzanne Collins accomplishes a feat so few can do. She creates an entirely new world, and makes it real, really real, so real that you genuinely care about these characters and their fates in the arena, and afterwards. The characters are vibrant, the backdrop is lightening. I haven’t had the joy to read something so good in quite a while.