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Friday, March 30, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 5 of 5 stars.


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, 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 start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love. (Book blurb)

Katniss Everdeen is strong, she is a survivor. If anyone should be able to win the bloody death match that is Panam's yearly Hunger Games, it is her. But Katniss also has chinks in her armor. One of those chinks is the  boy with the bread, Peeta Mellark. The one person she could possibly owe, the one who she fears she would never be able to kill.

As the two are forced into a sort of alliance and what tenuous bond they may have had is stretched by suspicion and strengthened by friendship, Katniss must decide what's more important: Playing by the Gamemaker's rules and getting home to her family, or risking everything by letting her humanity win over and proving to the Capitol that she is not just a piece in their Games.

The Hunger Games is an epic tale of strength, innocence, and goodness against all that is corrupt and vile. It's a story of courage even in the face of not a single shred of hope. It's the story of a girl who knows what it means to survive, and a boy with a love that shatters every piece of self-preservation and carries with it its own sort of rebellion. The Hunger Games rings of political unrest and a fervent desire for change and resistance against those who kill and oppress so many.

This book blew me away from the moment I cracked open the pages. I have been completely glued to the series these last few days and now though I'm dying to get my hands on Mockingjay, I'm afraid to see it end, especially since I don't expect to see a lot of light in the last book.

Suzanne Collins has done a remarkable job creating this dystopian world. The basic history of Panem is put forward in such natural and easy ways by Katniss's mind and by the things that happen around her. The setting is so perfectly put together, so outrageous at times and yet so real that it sets the stage for everything happening in the story effortlessly. The characters have distinct and strong personalities that do not waver, but neither do they always do what you would expect. This book had everything it needed to grab my attention and hold it until long after I finished the last page.

What really surprised me reading The Hunger Games was that while it was well written, it wasn't written in a way to give it any sort of airs. It isn't particularly lyrical, the prose isn't beautifully turned, and I found myself a bit annoyed by how many things were told rather than shown. And none of this is a bad thing. It was so expertly done as to give us a clear view of the action without always knowing the characters' exact motivations. Despite being in first person from Katniss's point of view and rolling with a kind of internal monologue, we don't always know what Katniss's feelings about certain things are. The only time we get a clear glimpse is when she colors the other characters actions with her own ideas of what those actions mean.

Despite this, and maybe it was just me who saw it that way, there is a tangible intensity to the story that I like. You never really forget all that is at stake for the Tributes or how both Katniss and Peeta are gambling with their actions before and during the games.

I could keep rambling on about how much I adored some of the characters, but I don't think that's necessary for this review. If you read, or have read, the books then the characters speak for themselves. They don't need a lot of coloring or hype, they just are what they are.

I know that if you are a fan of dystopian fantasy or just like a really good, pretty intense book you will love The Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor!


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