Review: Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Hunger Games is based in a post-apocalyptic USA, where only one city remains standing, the Capitol. Around the Capitol are 13 districts, each producing an important resource for the people who live in the Capitol. The districts tried to rise up against the Capitol but were brutally subdued. District 13 bore the brunt of the punishment and was laid to waste. Now, every year, each district must provide two tributes to battle it out to the end in the annual Hunger Games. The tributes, a teenage boy and girl, are selected at random, their names being drawn from a hat, to take part in the televised games. As soon as a child turns 12 their name is entered into hat. The poverty in the districts is such that young people are willing to enter their name in multiple times in exchange for a ration of grain and supplies. Katniss and her hunting-partner have entered their names in multiple times, increasing the likelihood that they will be selected. But something goes wrong and Katniss is forced to volunteer herself. At the Capitol Katniss learns that there is more to winning the Hunger Games then just your will to survive.

The Hunger Games is the first book in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Its written the first-person and told from Katniss’s perspective. Katniss isn’t your average sweet sixteen though. After her father died in a mining accident, she has had no choice but to try and provide for her family, risking a public flogging by leaving the perimeter of her district to hunt with her father’s bow in the wild. She finds it difficult to trust anyone and is even emotionally incompetent at times. Her personal development is handled well and her feelings are explored without going to a level that would make a male reader uncomfortable. Whilst the concept isn’t completely original, having many similarities to films like Battle Royale and the Running Man, it also resonated with classic works such as Orwell’s 1984 and Golding’s Lord of the Flies, but the pacing of the story and the build up tension in the plot kept me gripped throughout. The book is well written and doesn’t ever feel like it’s been toned down for young people. There were a couple of points in the story that I would have done differently, but others may not agree.

Overall, this is one of the best YA fiction books I’ve ever read. A movie version, billed for a 2012 release has been announced recently and will hopefully fill the gap left by the Harry Potter movies. I definitely recommend this to anyone aged 14 up.

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