Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

2008; 374 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Dystopian Thriller.  Book #1 of the Hunger Games trilogy.  Overall Rating : 10*/10.

    Woohoo!  Katniss Everdeen has won the lottery.  That means she gets an all-expenses-paid train trip to The Capitol, a whole new wardrobe, and she'll be eating better than she ever has in her whole life.

    The downside is that she has to compete in the Hunger Games.  24 teenagers (a girl and a boy from each of the 12 districts) fight to the death in a huge, artificially-rendered arena.  The event is televised nationally for the entertainment and punishment of the districts.  Be the last one alive, and your district receives extra food and other resources.  Be any of the other 23, and all you are is dead.

What's To Like...
    The Hunger Games will appeal to almost everyone.  It's a YA novel that adults will also enjoy.  It has Action, Drama, Romance, Thrills, and Kills.  Despite the inevitable ending, there are plot twists to keep your interest.  And plenty of Situational Ethics for you to ponder.

    Suzanne Collins handles the dystopian backdrop well.  She gives enough details for you to feel the misery and oppression, but not to the point of where the storyline gets overshadowed.

    The characters are complex and evolve as the story progresses.  There are good guys, bad guys, and a number of "tweeners".  Even the baddies evoke some sympathy, which is a pleasant surprise.  But in the end, only one can survive.

    (W)e make an effort to keep on good terms with Greasy Sae.  She's the only one who can consistently be counted on to buy wild dog.  We don't hunt them on purpose, but if you're attacked and you take out a dog or two, well, meat is meat.  "Once it's in the soup, I'll call it beef," Greasy Sae says with a wink.  No one in the Seam would turn up their nose at a good leg of wild dog, but the Peacekeepers who come to the Hob can afford to be a little choosier.  (pg. 11)

    Deep in the meadow, hidden far away
    A cloak of leaves, a moonbeam ray
    Forget your woes and let your troubles lay
    And when again it's morning, they'll wash away.

    Here it's safe, here it's warm
    Here the daisies guard you from every harm
    Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
    Here is the place where I love you.  (pg. 235)

"District Twelve.  Where you can starve to death in safety."  (pg. 6)
    So how good of a story is The Hunger Games?  Well, consider this.  The first third of the book is all about Katniss prepping for the games.  Which means it's all drama.  No killing, no action, no romance.  Yet it will keep you in your chair, turning the pages.  Then the games begin, the excitement kicks in, and you find yourself thoroughly hooked.

    There are a couple deus ex machinas, but they balance out all the "Bruce Willis Die Hard" injuries that Katniss sustains, so they're forgiveable.

    The Hunger Games is easy-to-read (it really is a YA novel), with an ending that's both happy and haunting.  The big challenge is for the other two books of the trilogy to maintain the high standard.  10 Stars.

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