15 March, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Pages: 374
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Format: Paperback
Published by Scholastic
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. 
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.  - from Goodreads.com
After finishing all three books of this series, I still am baffled! How did I pass these books by? I know I had reservations, mainly due to the hype, but let's be honest, The Hunger Games have never been hyped up like they are in these short weeks before the movie release. You can read a bit on why I didn't pick these books up until the last minute over at this post.

I loved everything about this book. The dystopian world, the concept of the Hunger Games themselves, the characters, the pacing, the plot. I could go on and on! Collins has definitely created an unputdownable masterpiece of YA reading. The bleakness of Panem and District 12 was done perfectly and set the tone for the entire book series. As a reader, you feel the suffering and injustice before you even read about the terribleness of the Hunger Games. Even now, two days after putting the last book down, I am amazed at how the feeling of destruction, yet hope of the series lingers in your brain.

The characters were so original. I especially admired Katniss for her incessant determination and brashness. I love characters with gumption and who don't sit back and whine. However, Katniss wasn't completely cold. She has a vulnerability in her love for others, especially her mother and sister, and in her home District 12. Her best friend (possibly more then friend?) Gale is the reflection of her rebelliousness and her partner in crime, taking risks to feed each others' family by hunting in the forest beyond their fenced in town. Peeta is the vulnerable, yet selfless character in the book. When chosen to be District 12's male tribute in the Hunger Games, he quickly realises that Katniss has a better chance at succeeding and devises a secret plan to help her. Haymitch (another of my favorites!) is a former tribute of the Games from District 12. He won his game decades ago and is tasked with being the mentor to Katniss and Peeta when they're taken to the Capitol. He represents the aftermath and self-destruction that could face Katniss or Peeta if they survive the Games, as he's a raging, lonely alcoholic.

The pacing of this book was incredible. It was so quick, slowing down only when Katniss did, and I ate up every single word. I also was blown away by how gruesome some of the scenes were. Let's face it, if 24 kids go into the arena and one 1 comes out, you've got to anticipate many deaths. The gore wasn't too overdone, but it Collins didn't try to baby us by censoring everything. For a giant death-match, it was actually tasteful.

Simply put, if you love dystopian worlds or action in your novels, you will enjoy this book. I don't often think books are 10 out of 10 stunners. Don't let the hype put you off! Go pick it up!


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