The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games book coverI first wanted to read this when my favorite author Stephenie Meyer (author of  Twilight) suggested it on her website. She was so caught up in the book that she took it out with her to dinner so she could read it under the table and started recommending it to complete strangers at Target. I figured if my favorite author loved this book, I probably would, too.

The Hunger Games is the story of a 16-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen (who must be BFF’s with Renesmee Cullen…), who lives in Panem – the country that used to be the United States. Katniss lives in the 12th District of Panem and is a participant, or “Tribute”, in the Hunger Games, which are hosted by the Capitol and broadcast for entertainment value. Two adolescents from each of the 12 Districts are chosen, lottery-style, to be the last one standing in a vast arena by surviving in the wild and trying not to be killed by their competitors. The losers of the Hunger Games die, but the winner gets to live a life of luxury – especially tempting for kids like Katniss who come from poverty-stricken homes.

Katniss goes into the  Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, Prim, who makes Katniss promise she’ll survive and come home. While Katniss’ survival instinct is strong, she must choose between winning and killing Peeta, the boy she has befriended and might love.

Suzanne Collins is a great storyteller, and The Hunger Games style is best comparable to The Host (Stephenie Meyer) in that aspect. Both authors have a way of weaving an imaginary world clearly through the reader’s mind. However, Collins’ keen sense of the human nature rivals that of any character from a Jodi Picoult novel (My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes). Collins shows human nature at its most raw through the Tributes’ mad desperation to survive and the crowd’s pleasure at the entertainment value in the annual games – which can also be compared to the excitement of the crowd as they watched the gladiators battle to the death in the Roman arenas.

Though the content may be a bit brutal for “Young Adult” –it’s not too graphic, but still, teenagers killing each other for survival is disturbing – somewhere around chapter 3 the story sucks you in. You root for Katniss to survive the games, and you realize before she does that Peeta is for real in love with her.

Katniss comes off as a completely selfless, independent, wild and somehow believeable character.  Since her dad died years ago she has had to fight to support her family. She has learned to distrust almost everyone. Instead of being jaded and angry, she worries that any slip-up in Capitol-protocol will result in punishment for her family and District 12. She avoids killing the other competitors until it’s a fight-or-die situation, and is one of the only Tributes to hold on to her compassion. Katniss is a character who will stick out in your mind as clearly Bella Swan, Stargirl, or Juliet Capulet.

This book has plenty of action, a pinch of love and angst, some twists and turns, and is a must-read for boys and girls alike. The ending is a bit abrupt, and since Collins has planned for this to be a trilogy, I can hardly imagine what the next two books will be about. I personally adored this book. I was fascinated with this future world where privileged people could dye their skin pea green or get gold tattoos on a fashion whim and have names like “Haymitch”, “Cato”, or “Flavius”. I couldn’t stop reading this book mostly because I loved seeing Katniss’ world through her eyes, but also because I had to know how it would end. Every time I would try to foresee how a certain situation turned out I was dead wrong – and that rarely happens to me with books. I’ll definitely see this trilogy through and read the next two books, because I have not had my fill of Katniss Everdeen and her crazy-cool future world.

review submitted by Kelly