Overall impression: This book is a piece of YA genius! It’s absolutely impossible to put down!
This is the first book I have read for the Eclectic Reader Challenge for the Young Adult section! Click here to find out more.
Before entering the blogosphere I had never even heard of this book. Then the name began to pop up left right and centre. The Hunger Games. “It’s the most amazing book ever” people were saying. Again and again it emerged in my books tags. Repeatedly I would come across book blogs singing it’s praises and declaring it their favorite YA book to date. So what does one do in this situation? Why, turn to Google of course! I looked it up and discovered it was also soon to be released as a full major motion picture with stars such as Taylor Swift lining up to help create the soundtrack. I was beginning to feel very out of the loop, so at this point I immediately bought the books. No way was I going to let a YA craze like this go by without joining in. I must admit, I was almost apprehensive to begin reading the book. What if I I’m the only one on this planet that dislikes it, and I get attacked with hate mail from dedicated Hunger Games fans I thought. Luckily, I absolutely loved it, so I no longer have to worry about that scenario!
In the dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games.
There is only one rule: kill or be killed.
When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sisters place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
This book jumps right in and quickly sets the scene. Katniss Everdeen lives in a dystopian future in a place that used to be North America. Her life is controlled by the Capitol, as well as her sisters, mothers, and the rest of the human race. Since her father first taught her to use a bow, it has become her duty to help feed her district, the Seam. Each day she sneaks under the fence and into the woods to catch game with her friend Gale, to prevent her family and others, from starving to death.
Each year the reaping is held where they pick two teenagers from each district; a boy and a girl, to take place in the annual Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a TV show where the contestants must fight to the death. Twenty four go in, only one comes out, and everyone is forced to watch it televised on screen to prevent any further rebellion against the Capitol. So when Katniss’ younger sister, poor innocent Prim is picked out to participate, Katniss volunteers herself instead. Terrified she accepts her place next to Peeta Mellark, and is shipped off to the Capitol where the game of survival, politics and moral dilemma’s begin.
I find it very difficult to talk about books I love, because I usually just end up squealing with excitement like a crazy fan girl, and I feel like I can never do them the justice they deserve, but I shall do my best 🙂
I must admit when I read the first chapter, I found it quite difficult to get into the swing of Suzanne Collins writing style, I found it jarring and had to keep rereading sentences to make sure I had understood them properly. I don’t think it helped that she was bombarding the reader with lots of important information from the very beginning of the book. However, I soon adjusted and began to love her honest, matter of fact writing style. Suzanne Collins biggest strength is suspense, and this is where her writing really begins to shine. When the characters were launched up and into the arena where the Hunger Games takes place I could not shift my eyes away from the book, I was flicking through the pages like a woman possessed! I wanted to yell at Katniss out loud, I wanted to scream at her to run, to find safety, and I could feel my own heart begin to pound with nervous excitement, trying to work out what would happen next.
The plot is highly superior to a lot of YA books I’ve read recently. It has the perfect balance. It spends the right amount of time setting the scene, giving background information, and character development to make you care for the characters and worry about what’s going to happen to them, and then parallel to this is the mind numbing, suspenseful action. As someone who is interested in psychology, I found the whole plots subject matter fascinating. It’s all about the lengths we will go to to stay alive, a social commentary about the rise in popularity of reality TV, and the worlds increasing concern about living in a big brother society. Think of it as a compilation of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and teenage gladiators ages 12 to 18. The Hunger Games is not a world of right and wrong, but of different shades of grey. What would you do to stay alive? Would you kill a close friend? Would you murder a fourteen year old? There are twenty three contestants to kill, each with family, friends, and people that rely on them. These are the moral dilemma’s Katniss is faced with, but you’ll have to read the books to find out how she solves them! I did feel that the plot began to slow down a bit towards the end, but that was mainly because of the introduction of a romance, which for once in my life while reading a book, I didn’t think added to the story that much because I was too interested in the main plot of how Katniss could find a way to win the Hunger Games. However, this is the only thing that was slightly below perfect in this book.
The characterization was also excellent. Katniss Everdeen is strong, defiant and matter of fact with the intrinsic desire to protect the people she loves. It’s fantastic to see a strong female lead character that is competent yet still able to remain feminine. With many other writers I could imagine she would come across as insolent and unlikable, but Collins has been careful to parallel every strong characteristic with a more vulnerable or likeable one. Peeta Mellark is quite simply, a sweetheart with his lighthearted personality and a giving nature. You can’t help but want to pat him on the head or give him a hug. Gale is dashing, and passionate, and like Katniss has a innate desire to protect those around him. Ever character in this book is carefully thought out, and they all have their own strengths, weaknesses and little quirks. A reasonable amount of information is also given on the other tributes taking part in the Hunger Games which wrenches at the heart strings when you know only one can survive.
I would recommend this book to everyone, and I mean everyone, from ages 10 and up, male and female (does contain mild violence but nothing disturbing or graphic, although I could understand why some parents might not like their child to read a book about teens killing other teens, but it really doesn’t come across as badly as it sounds.) It’s not just for teenagers that like YA, I strongly believe that adults will enjoy this book too because of the issues it tackles. Aspiring writers should read this book, as an example of the perfect formula of how to put a story together, people that don’t normally read YA should read it because it’s in a league of it’s own. People that aren’t big readers should read it as it is fast paced and will keep them interested. I really cannot express how great this book was, all I can do is hope I’ve sold it to you and that you go out and buy it! 🙂
Now if you’ll excuse me I’moff to revise Psychology read the next Hunger Games book. 🙂
Writing Style: 4/5
Character Development: 5/5
Would I recommend this book? Yes!!!
(To read my review of the next book in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Catching Fire, click here)