Sunday, 17 June 2012
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Set in a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called The Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed. When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her younger sister's 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 has been surrounded by a lot of hype which combined with the less than appealing covers (UK) deterred me from picking it up. Well I learnt my lesson- never judge a book by it's cover! The Hunger Games was the first book in ages to keep me up late reading because I could not put it down! It was an exhilarating, emotional, suspense filled roller coaster of a read. I am glad I waited until the whole trilogy was available because I devoured them in a matter of days! This review will not spoil any of the subsequent books but it will spoil The Hunger Games a little!
The Hunger Games is set in a futurist North America totalitarian state arranged into 12 distinct districts and the Capitol. The background to the book was interwoven with the story in a way that didn't feel you were being bogged down with needless information. The geographical detail was cleverly incorporated and very well thought out. District 12 itself was a brief setting of the book yet it was described so well and so important to the main characters that I could vividly imagine all the major areas. The brief alliance of Katniss and Rue gave a lot of information on District 11 once again showing how well though out the background to the novel was. The portrayal of the Capitol of vain and vapid yet innocent in a way was very realistic. The actual population weren't necessarily cruel just desensitised to the realities of the Hunger Games. They seemed to view the Hunger Games without an awareness that they were watching children be murdered by other children. he Hunger Games themselves were an awful concept but portrayed brilliantly, it was evident how they were a tool of the Capitol and the divisions they caused. They were a little gruesome in description but I focused on the characters!
Katniss Everdeen was a tough main character. I can't say we had much in common but the first person narrative of the book worked really well. It allowed you to see through Katniss' eyes and understand her motivations and actions so much so that I bonded with her character. I loved her interpretation and reaction to all the twists as it made them more surprising and random than they would have been in a third person narrative. It also left me frustrated at her naivety at times which again shows the power of the first person narrative.
I loved the secondary characters and side cast! All of them were fleshed out irregardless of the size of their role. For example most of the tributes were described through the reaping, interviews and their actions so you got an idea of their characters through Katniss' opinion of their importance and the threat they posed with the actual characters getting little scene time. I'm going to focus on my favourites in this book as I could talk endlessly about certain characters whose roles are built upon in later books.
I loved Peeta, through Katniss' eyes he was very much an unknown entity but I enjoyed watching them form their alliance and relationship. I enjoyed his different outlook despite their shared district, it added dimensions to Katniss' opinion and ex He was very layered as a character being more privileged but showing signs of dissent and his dedication feelings for Katniss was so admirable.
Gale, through Katniss' eyes seemed very closed off despite their obvious closeness. This was where I found Katniss naive and oblivious because I thought it was obvious that her and Gale would have ended up together if the Reaping hadn't happened purely as all they seemed to have was each other!
I loved Cinna, he was so visionary but not overtaken by the vain Capitol attitude. I liked how he initially treated Katniss and Peeta as genuine competitors with an equal chance. I also loved the relationship he developed with Katniss.
My favourite tribute, outside of District 12, was of course Rue. Although she reminded Katniss of Prim I found her to be very similar to Katniss. Mature and wise beyond her years due to her role as oldest sibling and very resourceful. I think her death was one of the most poignant moments of the book and probably the whole series.
I honestly can't find fault with this book- it was addictive and well thought out, the characters were perfectly created and fleshed out, the setting was brilliantly complex and the sub context of the Games was clever.
The Hunger Games is officially one of my all time favourite books!