Published by Scholastic Press on September 14th 2008
Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death.
The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The 'tributes' are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.
When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
The Hunger Games is genuinely one of the best books I have ever read. I literally could not put it down once I started reading it; there was just too much suspense and surprise from the onset. There are so many things about this book that just shouldn’t work, but somehow they do.Initially I thought that this was an action book but as the story progressed it started to turn into a romance novel. I was also under the impression that the story was set in a time or place completely different to our world now but I soon realised that in fact it was set in modern times complete with television sets and advanced science technology. There is such a juxtaposition of the world where the main character Katniss lives and ‘The Capitol’ where the rich people live. There should be an awful clash as Collins tries to mix two very different sorts of environments together but in fact there is an explosion of brilliant literature.
Katniss’ world reminds me of one similar to Robin Hood’s, where people hunt with arrows and kept under strict control by the Capitol. However the Capitol seems very much like the centre of a busy city, like London, with stylists and televisions and posh hotel suites. Suzanne Collins has created a twist on the popular reality TV show ‘Big Brother’ where contestants are placed inside a locked arena. The difference is twenty-four contestants go in, but only one can make it out alive. There is so much attention to detail and each and every one of the main characters are explained in full, details which many other authors would have skimmed over. What makes this book really interesting for the reader is that Collins seems to include us in it. The ‘Hunger Games’ are broadcast on screens everywhere for the general public to see and we feel like we are the ones at home watching it and cheering on for different players.
Katniss is a brilliant character as she is very aware of what the audience wants to see and makes sure that she gives it to them (and us). This is one of the most sophisticated and engaging novels I have ever read and I am sure that it will appeal to people of all ages, not just teenagers. The suspense is continuous throughout the book, right until the very end, and it leaves the reader wanting to know more about Katniss and her story. There is even the suggestion of a love triangle between her and two other characters.
The reader assumes that at the end of The Hunger Games the worst is over for our protagonist but in actual fact it may be just beginning. Katniss has done something that no one else has ever dared to do, and has made the Capitol look like fools. This book definitely leaves you begging for more and excited for the next two books that make up this trilogy.