Book Review: ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins

Posted: 27 March 2014 in Book reviews
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74 years ago, the districts rose in rebellion and lost.  District 13 was decimated and to remind them all of the consequence of defying Panem, the Hunger Games were started.  Every year, one male and one female tribute is chosen from the youth ages 12-18 to compete in the games.  In these games the tributes are pitted against each other until one remains, alive.

Katniss Everdeen is a 16-year-old girl living in District 12.  She lives with her mother and sister Prim in the Seam on the outskirts of town.  Her father died a few years back in a mine explosion and from then she has been the prime caretaker of her family.  One day when she is hunting beyond the fence (which is illegal and the fence is supposed to be electrified), she meets Gale, a boy whose father was killed in the same mine accident.  Since they are both caring for their families, they become hunting partners and friends.

Now is the time for the Reaping for the 74th Hunger Games.  All the boys and girls gather in their ages groups before Effie Trinket pulls the names.  With only one slip of paper in the bowl, Katniss’ sister should have been safe from selection, but she wasn’t.  Prim’s name is called and as she walks to the front, Katniss does the unthinkable and volunteers to take her place.  Peeta Mellark is chosen as the male tribute.  Tearful goodbyes are given and then Peeta and Katniss are whisked away to the capitol and their seemingly inevitable demise.

The Capitol.  Words can hardly describe the excessive extravagance of the city and its citizens.  The are frivolous, silly, and seem utterly clueless that real people die in these games.  Katniss can’t stand them, but she has to hide that distaste if she expects to get sponsors.  But through very little work of her own, she manages to stand out.  First, their stylists Cinna and Portia make them look incredible during the tribute parade, Peeta reveals his love for her (which she can’t quite determine whether it is real or not), and then she scores the highest score ever from the Gamemakers.

The games start off well enough with Katniss and Peeta being among the survivors of the first day.  That doesn’t mean much to Katniss when she learns that Peeta has joined up with the Career tributes.  Unbeknownst to her, he has joined up with them not only to survive, but also to keep them from killing her.  This of course ends of almost killing him, which she doesn’t learn until later.

In a turn of events, Katniss teams up with Rue, the young tribute from District 7.  They made a great team.  Together they lured the Careers away so Katniss could destroy their food supply.  Katniss was made deaf in one hear from the explosion, but eventually made it back to where she was meant to meet up with Rue.  She wasn’t there.  A scream led Katniss to where she was, but she made it in time to see the poor girl be fatally wounded.  In an act to retain her humanity, she sang to Rue until she died and then adorned her body with flowers.

A sudden rule change changes the game and causes Katniss to search for Peeta.  She finds him camouflaged by the river burning with fever and severely injured (from Kato).  She nurses him back to health, ever mindful that they are ‘star-crossed lovers’ in order to get the food and supplies they need to survive.

But soon the survivors have dwindled down and they are forced to meet in a final battle to determine who will be the victor of the 74th Hunger Games.

I’m just going to have to come out and say it: I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!  Okay, I got a little excited there.  But seriously, this book is fantastic.  I first read this book when I was doing humanitarian work in Thailand in 2010.  I had never heard of it and it had been sent in as a donation.  So I read it.  And now I have finally finished the series (which of course I will write about in two other posts).

There really isn’t much to say that most people won’t already know (if you’ve read it already naturally).  The writing is good and the story is wonderfully developed. You don’t want to put the book down.  You just let yourself be absorbed into the chaos.

The characters.  We have three main ones: Peeta, Katniss, and Gale.  Gale isn’t in the first book much, but he is vital to the story.  We also have Haymitch, their mentor, and Effie, the capitol escort.  What is great with these characters is that like any good story, they do not stay the same.  You can visibly see their development as the story progresses.  Katniss starts off being standoffish and largely unlikeable to the public, but she begins to be affected by the events and it shows by how she treats those around her.  She is constantly suspicious (for good reason), but she unwillingly develops understanding, friendship, and trust. In general, all the characters, good and bad, and believable and well developed.

Here I should really say something negative to add balance to the review, but honestly I have nothing negative to say.  The relationships between the characters are realistic, you can tell that tons of research was conducted, overall the book was a complete success.  I give it a 5/5 for sure.  Go and read it.  Enjoy 😉

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