July 1, 2010
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival.
"Review from Ashia" By The Romance Reviews 2 years ago
THE HUNGER GAMES is my first post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel, and I was blown away. The pages literally flew as I devoured the book. Suzanne Collins has a way with words that kept me engrossed as I raced to the finish line. One other thing I have to say for this book is that it's very thought-provoking.
In the world that Katniss Everdeen lived in, the Capitol is the center of Panem, and it controls the twelve districts. Previously, there were thirteen, but in the failed revolution that happened long ago, District 13 was obliterated to teach the people a lesson. As a constant reminder to the people (and to oppress them so that they won't revolt), the Hunger Games were set up, wherein each district has to send in one boy and one girl, called the tributes, to the Capitol in a fight to the death.
When Katniss's younger sister was chosen to be the girl tribute, Katniss volunteered to go in her stead, and that is the start of a chain of events that would change Katniss and her world forever.
The story is, first of all, about a horror so deep and violence so extreme this book should probably be classified R18. That innocent children should be forced to kill other children is a terror unimaginable and rents the very fabric of society as we know it. It is this very backdrop that presents a huge impact to the reader, especially when we are reading about the Games. Yet, the tone in which the narrator--Katniss--tells it (the existence of the Hunger Games and the way it has become integrated into their society for so many years) is so matter-of-fact and dispassionate that the horror is somewhat blunted and allows her to sweep us into her story and see that even in the ugliness of the system in Panem, something beautiful still exists.
Katniss Everdeen, sixteen, is a hunter. She's smart, strong and resourceful, and she comes across as cold, calculating and determined in her plans to stay alive. Well, really, who wouldn't? The Games is a throwback to the survival of the fittest, as well as the most cunning. Yet, despite that, she's likeable, mainly because in all that she's seen and done, she never lost that core of humanity that made her human. It is there in her actions -- when she volunteered for her sister out of love, the way she made Rue (a tribute from District 11) her ally and when she honored Rue's death (not really a spoiler), the feeling she got after she inadvertently made her first kill, her merciful act for her fellow tribute.
She's also a fighter. Before, she merely endured, because she needed to keep her family (her mother and her sister) alive. But in the Games, she saw the horrible reality of how the Capitol oppressed them, and she started fighting, against the Capitol, against the Games, in whatever small way she could, because she is more than just merely a piece in the Games.
As much a coming-of-age story, when the protagonist started fighting against the system and searching for who she really is, who she wanted to be, THE HUNGER GAMES is also about making choices. Do you accept the lot the Capitol has for you? Or do you make your own way to keep your humanity intact, to fight for what you know is right?
Peeta is the boy tribute from Katniss's district, and he has loved Katniss from the time they were five. Not that he ever told her. No, he saved it to make the most dramatic impact possible--and all done in a bid to keep her safe. I've read a lot of romances in which the heroes are all very protective of their women, but Peeta moved me in a way they didn't. This seemingly helpless boy who had no power whatsoever to even keep himself alive in the Games, in him we see his determination and the way he used whatever skill and wits he possessed in his arsenal to keep the girl he loved safe, even to the point of sacrificing himself. It is also Peeta who opened Katniss's eyes to the fact that if he has to die in the Games, he wants to do it on his own terms, not the Capitol's.
However, Katniss has a best friend, Gale, who is Peeta's rival for her affections. Gale is her best friend, their friendship built over the years as they hunted together in the woods in order to provide for their families. There's nothing wrong with Gale, in fact, to hear Katniss tells it, Gale is very attractive and much sought after by the girls in District 12, and he has the advantage of friendship with Katniss, but...I'm betting on Peeta.
The worldbuilding is top notch and believable. We can see how different the Capitol is from that of District 12, even in the way that people behave and talk. It is so easy to imagine we are there, seeing and experiencing all these oddities through Katniss's eyes. The games and Katniss's fight to survive are also clearly depicted, eliciting suspense in how Katniss would win the Games and how her relationship with Peeta would progress.
There's some romance, yes, but not as much as you'd expect in romance novels. At times, I find myself grasping for more, but the story's so gripping I let myself be distracted. There is also some humor here, all the more unexpected because they're mostly found in Katniss's narrative, yet a welcome break from the darkness and the suspense. The plot is tightly-paced, and the excitement begins from the first chapter and didn't let up...even at the end. The book ends with a cliffhanger that makes me reach immediately for book 2, Catching Fire. Fortunately, I can dive right into the book.
Though classified as YA, I believe this is a book even adults would find fascinating and compelling. This is a must-read, so what are you waiting for? Go get a copy!