The Hunger Games was chosen as my book club’s book choice for the month of February. The participants were asked to write a review of the book prior to our discussion and I thought I should post it here as well. I am very much looking forward to hearing the thoughts of my fellow readers and IRL book lovers. Get ready for some huge fangirl action on this review because I absolutely love this series.
In the nation of Panem, the residents of the districts are controlled by the people of the Capitol. While the districts reap harvests and nearly starve to death, the residents of the Capitol live in luxury, with every amenity at their fingertips. Not only do the districts provide food and energy sources to the Capitol, they provide entertainment. Each year, 2 teenagers from each district are chosen to participate in the bloodbath called The Hunger Games, in which the 24 “tributes” go head-to-head knowing they are literally fighting for their lives, knowing that only one will reign victorious and the others will meet their early graves. So when 16-year-old Katniss’ sister is chosen as a participant, she finds she has no choice but to volunteer to take Prim’s place and enter the fight for her life.
Believable world-building is critical in dystopian novels such as this one, and Suzanne Collins gets it done. While no reader wants to believe that the world can exist in such terrible form as Panem, it is easy to get caught up in this world and forget that The Hunger Games do not actually exist. The author gets it down to every detail, including the geography, the lives of the Capitol residents and the emotions of starvation and vulnerability. Facts are coupled with emotions, drawing us deeply into the lives of the tributes and their fight to stay alive.
Katniss, while not my favorite female protagonist in literature, is fabulous from the get-go. After her father died, she was forced to start hunting and bargaining in order to keep her sister and mother fed and alive. She is tough, brave and smart, though her deep love for her sister and best friend Gale bring her character full circle in emotionality. Her ability to think quickly and take risks makes her likable, yet her vulnerability in certain situations make her character believable.
Without ruining the rest of the series for those that have not finished it, I will say that the symbolism and foreshadowing in this first novel are brilliant. This novel is more than just a story of a brutal society, it is possibly an ode to free will and democracy, an imploration to consider each other as individuals with merit and value.
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
Published by Scholastic