Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
I don’t read dystopia or post-apocalyptic books for fun. Ever. Never ever ever. I’ve always found the genre too short-minded, too narrow, too dismal. So then I had ten people tell me I needed to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I said, fine, okay, and went hunting for the description.
One boy and one girl are chosen from each outlying District to go to the Capitol where they are primped and taught to fight in the Hunger Games, a to-the-death competition meant to remind the Districts to not try another uprising over the Capitol, set in a post-America world.
Yeah, you betcha. Right up my alley. Oh wait, only so not.
But, everyone told me I needed to read it, so I kept waiting for the paperback announcement, and none came. And the library has a waiting list, and I’m terrible about going to library when it’s my turn. So I just put it on the back burner. Amazon had a good discount, so I sucked it up and said, okay, if I don’t like it, I’ll give the book to someone else. This will work.
And blast it, I did like it. Perhaps not to the ranting and ravings point, but I did very much enjoy it.
I find it very difficult to describe why I like this book without giving the story away. Katniss, our main character, is the provider for her family. She hunts illegally with her friend Gale, and they trade their game to the local merchants to get a good meal on their families’ tables. This particular day is reaping day, and all the tweens and teens are told to line up by age and be ready for their name to be drawn and be given the “honor” of competing in the Hunger Games. When Katniss’s little sister, Primrose, has her name drawn, Katniss rushes forward and asks to take her sister’s place.
By the end of the second chapter, you already like Katniss. She’s a spunky, selfless 16-year-old, and you grow to like her more as she undergoes her makeover and training in the Capitol for the Games. She is surrounded by an interesting cast of characters. Many, like her hair dressers and one girl she befriends in the Games, you instantly love. Others, like her fellow tribute from District 12, Peeta, you never quite decide if you like or not. I found myself comparing the characters to people I know, casting my friends and acquaintances in the roles. They’re very real, in the sense that you know all these people, you grew up with these people, and it’s comforting to realize all these people will still exist in a post-America communist-type government.
I think the best aspect of these books is Collins’s ability to create emotion with so few words. She creates emotion through action, but not overt action, just the simple little acts that we all recognize and don’t have to be told what they mean. She knows when to throw in a smile that is going to be a smile worth mentioning. Crying is only left for the moments when tears are the only option. These emotions are what ground the story, in my opinion. Combined with the all-too-familiar characters you went to junior high and high school with, it’s hard to put the book down.
I would recommend it highly to high schoolers in particular, but I think this is the kind of book that anyone could read and feel satisfied with afterward. Now all I need to do hunt down a friend with Catching Fire and join the group of people anxiously awaiting Book 3.