Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
376 pages

The Hunger Games is a thrilling young adult sci-fi dystopian novel that occurs in fictional Panem sometime in the future, presumably after an apocalyptic event in North America. The story is about a teenage girl named Katniss Everdeen who volunteers to take the place of her younger sister Prim in the 74th annual Hunger Games---a bloody tournament that features twenty four 12-18 year old contestants, called tributes, who must kill each other off until only one person remains alive to win the Games.

Katniss takes Prim's place during the selection ceremony in an emotional scene where she enters with her fellow District 12 lottery "winner" Peeta Mallarch. They have a past connection that helps them form an emotional bond during their preparation for the Games. They are mentored by infamous drunkard Haymitch, who is the only living Hunger Games victor from District 12.

When Katniss and Peeta arrive at the Capitol they are prepared by Stylists who make them glamorous for their reality show style interviews and presentations to the viewing audience---Capitol and District members. The whole process is surreal and Katniss experiences a lot of conflicting emotions. Haymitch advises her to run to safety the second the Games begin to increase her chances of survival.

Katniss follows Haymitch's advice and runs to the woods at the beginning of the Games. She hides in trees for a long period of time until the Gamemakers, who control the location and weapons of the tournament, decide her safety in not entertaining and blast fire at her so she would get out of the trees. Afterwards Katniss uses her bow and arrow hunting skills she acquired back home to survive until only a few tributes remain.

Katniss is nearly killed by fellow tributes twice, but Peeta saves her the first time, while she shoots her attacker the second time, but she loses her cute friend Rue in the process. At the very end of the Games Katniss and Peeta are still alive, but Katniss suggests they commit suicide instead of one killing the other. The Gamemakers choose to let them both live, though they view Katniss as a threat to the Capitol's authority henceforth.

After Katniss and Peeta return to District 12 there is an implication that the Capitol is plotting to punish Katniss for her rebellious act at the Games. There is a rift between Katniss and Peeta over the authenticity of their feelings for each other that is unresolved by the novel's end. Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games picks up where the cliffhangers leave off.

This novel can be quite disturbing at times, but what is truly disturbing is how possible it is in the modern technology, social media era. It can be viewed as a cautionary tale much like George Orwell's 1984 was purported to be.

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