Thursday, 20 December 2012
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #1
Type: Young Adult Dystopian
In a future where North America has been destroyed and replaced with a country called Panem, a yearly event called the Hunger Games takes place. A teenage pair of 'tributes', one male and one female, are selected from each of Panem's 12 disticts and placed in an arena with a single rule - kill or be killed. When Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister's place in the Games, she believes it is a death sentence. Only one competitor from District 12 has ever won, but there has never been a competitor who has had to fight for their survival like Katniss has in the past.
I'd heard good things about this trilogy so picked up the first book out of a love of distopian novels. Initially, I was pretty disappointed as the book is slow to start and the plot is pretty derivative. Although the author interview at the end of the book claims the idea came from channel surfing between the news and reality TV this is incredibly similar to Battle Royale. I also prefer the kind of distopian novels that start out with a world that doesn't seem that bad, whereas here Panem seems pretty awful from the start.
However, as the Games begin (no pun intended) the plot picks up pace and we soon get to see Katniss in a new light. At the beginning of the book she is pretty irritating to read, whereas I liked Peeta (the male District 12 tribute) from the start. Katniss grows up a lot as she takes part in the Games, but by the end of the book it's clear she still has a lot of growing up to do. I also liked a lot of the supporting characters, especially Katniss's stylist Cinna.
I did like how the spectacle of the Hunger Games was handled, and it is one of the things that stood out from the book. While the Games were invented to remind Panem's citizens that the Capitol reigns supreme after a failed revolution, it has become a media circus. Given the current media attention given to reality TV it isn't too far-fetched to believe a show like this would garner that level of attention, if not more. The way in which the tributes are treated before the Games begin reminded me a little of beauty pagents - costumes, grand entrances, talent testing and interviews.
The way the book ended means that this part of Katniss's story is complete, but still leaves it open for the other two books in the trilogy. I really liked the ending, and it definitely made me look back on the book in a different light.
All in all this was a good read, and I will eventually get round to reading the rest of the trilogy (Catching Fire and Mockingjay).