Book Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Category: fiction: young adult, fiction: fantasy
It took me a long time to finally read The Hunger Games. It was something to do with how many people recommended it to me, raved about it online, or made youtube videos, or blog posts about it. Somehow the hype put me off reading it; if we keep using words like ‘awesome’, or ‘amazing’ or ‘fantastic’, do they eventually lose their value? Could this book possibly live up to the adjectives that were being used to describe it? But then, the other weekend I was in Vancouver at Kidsbooks (they are awesome by the way – find them here) and saw the paperback copies everywhere. I bought one.
And while I still have issues with the heaping of praise upon new novels, or anything for that matter, this book does live up to many of its recommendations, and I’m very glad I finally picked it up.
Part social commentary on reality TV shows and the excess of the business of celebrity, part dysotpic future, part tyranical government oppression, part romance, part survival, part gladiator death match. This book was brilliant.
The characters that Suzanne Collins has put on her pages are engaging and illustrate the stark differences that exist in the world of Panem. Katniss is a hauntingly appealing character, who makes choices and decisions out of love, compassion, and a cunning will to survive. She is surrounded by a range of characters, some of whom only see the pageantry, but are deeply impacted by her experiences. Characters who embody the very worst of society, and those who do anything to keep their families safe in a tumultuous dictatorship. At the centre of the story is family and survival. Very powerful motivations for this cast of characters, and especially for Katniss.
In a world in which the government pits regions against each other in an attempt to keep control of a conquered population, every year 2 children are chosen from each District and placed in a battle to the death. The winner’s family and District receive food and comforts, while the rest of the Districts and family are faced with the bleak proof of their subjugated existence.
This is another great example of young adult fiction that everyone should read. It’s not about High School, or shopping, rebelling against your parents, staying out late, or any of that ‘normal’ teenage stuff. (Though their are YA books I have read that stand out as wonderful even with these themes). Katniss doesn’t have the luxury of simplicity. She lives in a world where every year, any child can be picked by the government to fight to the death.