I really wasn’t expecting what I got out of The Hunger Games
. I’d never read Suzanne Collins before, and I didn’t have any idea what her approach to this dystopian, post-apocalyptic, cruel and murderous government-dominated world would be. Maybe that is why this book just blew me away.
Honestly, I found it completely fascinating and I finished it too early. I wanted to spend more time in this crazy, bloodthirsty place. I’m grateful there’s a sequel coming out this year, Catching Fire
, but now I’m not sure how it will be able to compare to the simplicity of this book, which grabs you and doesn’t let you go till the very last page.
The basic premise of this book is that the government of Panem, formerly North America, is In Charge, and every year they hold a the Hunger Games to remind the people they rule over of that fact. The Hunger Games pits twenty-four children taken two apiece from the twelve districts that comprise the support network for the opulent Capitol in a fight to the death. Yes, the death. Even more disturbingly, the people of the twelve districts are obligated to watch the proceedings – to watch twenty-three of their children die – live in twenty-four hour broadcast.
Reading this book is kind of like feeling as though you are one of the citizens of the districts, sitting in front of your television set, watching as children kill each other in a desperate bid for survival and, in some cases, fame. We follow the main character Katniss, who ends up part of the Games after she takes the place of her twelve-year-old sister. And all we can do is watch helplessly as she’s stuck in the middle of an arena with other children bigger, stronger, and faster than her. Not only that, but she can’t help being friends with the other child from her district, a boy named Peeta – a boy she will be forced to kill or watch die if she wants to win.
It’s really fascinating. It appeals to both the human and the bloodthirsty sides of the reader. It isn’t shy about depicting the deaths of the children or describing previous years of the Hunger Games. It doesn’t pull any punches with the emotional impacts of the deaths or the cruel twists the Gamemakers put upon the children.
Yes, the ending is a bit too pat, but I thought it was done in a fairly clever way, wrapping up the story in a convincing way while still leaving the path to a sequel. I can’t wait for the next book.