"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
Hunger Games is a dystopic young adult novel. The setting is Panem, the Capitol (the governing city of Panem) and its 12 districts. The protagonist, sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen, lives in the Ream in District 12. She hunts and gathers food in forbidden land along with her friend Gale, to prevent her family from starving to death. She is essentially the provider for her family. District 12 is known for mining coal and is one of the poorest districts. Its residents are starving from the lack of basic needs and food. Every year there is a Reaping, where 2 contestants (one boy, one girl) are chosen from each district to do battle at the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a battle to the death, where only one child out of the 24 contestants can survive. The winner will gain food and honor for their district. The contestants are children, between the ages of 12-18 and all must participate, unless there is a volunteer. On the day of the Reaping, Katniss's twelve year old sister Prim is chosen as the girl tribute from District 12. Katniss volunteers in her place. The other tribute from District 12 chosen to go is a baker's son named Peeta.
The novel takes the reader on a roller coaster journey of emotions. I was mad at Panem and its society for allowing this to take place. I was rooting for Katniss the moment she step foot in the Capitol when the Hunger Games began. What I enjoyed about the book was that Katniss often recognized her own mistakes, so when I thought she made a bone headed move, it would be revealed in the book that Katniss thought she did as well. I love characters that have flaws and it's even better when characters later recognize those flaws. Otherwise, readers can become apathetic towards the protagonist. But not with the character Katniss, I'd tell myself, "it's okay Katniss. Keep going, you have ass to kick." You will cheer for Katniss, a young girl struggling to survive, so she can get back to her home and continue to provide for her family by making sure they don't starve to death.
There are some underlying tones of political and social struggle. You see it in the way District 13 was annihilated from existence when it chose to fight back. But now the other poor districts are afraid to seek their own liberation. The residents, "allow" the dictators of Panem to kill off their children every year for what? They are still hungry and poor. It's an amazing quick paced read. I am thrilled that Suzanne Collins chose young adolescents as the protagonist. If it had been adults, I may have lost interest. Suzanne Collins also has a great way of using language to describe settings, surroundings, attire, the atmosphere and emotions. The author's use of dialogue come across as sincere, natural, funny, humorous and relevant. Her ability to craft powerful sentences with such intense imagery is remarkable.
I highly recommend this book. I give it:
4 STARS ****
Excerpts, Memorable/Favorite Quotes
“Here’s some advice. Stay alive.” ~Haymitch Abernathy
“Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games” ~Peeta Mellark
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