In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.
When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
I had read this last June – the entire trilogy in four days – and after I saw the movie I had to re-read it. I wanted to absorb the book once more, and at a slower pace. This way, I could appreciate the story more and focus less on how tense and anxious I felt while reading the thriller.
What makes Hunger Games so successful as a young adult novel is its first person, present tense narrative. The immediacy of the plot and the obsessive thoughts bring the reader straight into the moment, down to every single decision Katniss makes in the Games. Her honest mental contemplations, straight-forward descriptions, and skepticism in trusting others is refreshing. Sometimes, this sort of writing lacks in literature. There can be an overabundance of descriptions but little development of character. Other times, there is no sustenance of much of anything.
The characters – most especially Katniss and Peeta – are well-rounded as well as flawed. Katniss has strength, survival instincts, and unconditional love for her family. She’s a fighter. However, she is blind to true kindness, and at times can be cruel to others due to this weakness. Peeta is the opposite: he’s open and honest, wears his heart on his sleeve, and while he lacks survival instincts, he is honorable and understanding. The problem, though, is that he is rather naive, and too trusting of others’ intentions. These characteristics will play out across the trilogy, but I just want to point out that while both characters are flawed and may not be the absolute best of role models, we must keep in mind that the situations they are in and the fully developed attributes lend to excellently formed personalities to which a reader can relate.
This dystopian narrative also lends itself to the possibility of where this country (and even this world) may be headed. Like Brave New World, 1984, and Lord of the Flies, these scenarios could actually happen. Consider society’s obsession with reality TV. I’m not just speaking of “Jersey Shore” and “Housewives of ___” but also “Survivor” and “American Idol.” Shows that follow real people around in a game, where the winner gets money, fame, and recognition, even if only temporarily. Toss in our political unrest domestically and internationally, and we’ve the perfect recipe for Hunger Games.
Back to the book – I would highly recommend this for everyone, especially new readers. The immediacy of the narrative easily prevents the reader from putting the book down, flipping page after page, soaking up the story, begging for more.
Goodreads: 4.54 of 5