The Hunger Games (2008)
Written by Suzanne Collins
In this fictional world that Suzanne Collins creates, things are quite unfair for the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. She lives in District 12, known for their coal mines as their primary resource. Her father dies in the mines and the tragedy depresses her mother and makes her emotionless to the world. Katniss takes the role of care-taker and provider for her mom and young sister, Prim. Here, she learns how to hunt with her best friend, Gale, but most importantly, she learns how to survive.
Survival is mandatory when you live in Panem, a section of North America. Not only because of the many poverty-stricken districts, but because of the annual Hunger Games, a televised event that puts two children each, from the ages of 13-16, of the twelve districts against each other in a fight to the death tournament. The Capitol does this to discourage the civilians of Panem of an uprising and to remind them that the Capitol is more powerful than they are.
When Prim is chosen at the reaping for the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers in her place. Here, she meets the other selection of District 12, Peeta, her mentor, Haymitch, and many others that prepare her for the festivities and the tournament. While no one, including Katniss, believes in the stacked deck against her, she proves that her ability to survive might be enough to actually win. Once she starts believing in herself, the others are in trouble.
Collins has crafted a well-paced, entertaining novel for anyone to enjoy. While the slight romantic story between Katniss and her love triangle aim towards those who are familiar with the Twilight Saga, it’s beneficial that The Hunger Games doesn’t invest too many pages on that. For the most part, it’s a ruthless blood-bath told in the perspective of Katniss. She shows off her smarts and skills that are rare for a sixteen-year-old, but expresses confusion and some naivety that balances her character well. While most of the supporting characters aren’t fully developed, Peeta steals quite a few scenes throughout. Even though the ending feels very incomplete, it’s just a third of the complete story and I was eager to know what happens next.
Overall, The Hunger Games was wildly creative with themes that aim at some of our society’s standards. While the target audience for the novel is youth adult, there is a lot to enjoy for more mature readers as well. Even though the prose is simple and Collins’ delivery is sometimes slightly off-centered, it was still a fun read that I recommend to anyone.