Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

Ever since the unsuccessful rebellion of the thirteen districts against Panem's government, tributes from each of the remaining twelve districts have been required to participate in the Hunger Games. Every year, one boy and one girl from each district are randomly selected to fight to the death in a carefully controlled environment. In the 174th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen volunteers as the tribute in place of her sister Prim. Katniss travels to the Capitol with fellow tribute Peeta, to participate in a televised event that will undoubtedly claim both their lives.

I watched the film version of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins first, and found it to be lacking in emotional tension. I was hoping for something a little more intense in the book. Unfortunately, that didn't pan out, but reading the book did help me better understand Katniss's character. What I took for a flat plot and lack of acting chops in the movie turns out to the result of a staggeringly rational and humourless protagonist. She's naive and confused for most of the book, but her thoughts are described so thoroughly that readers can't help but relate to her.

So what's good about this book? A commenter on my facebook page informed me that the book has more romantic politics, and that was true. Watching Katniss struggle with her emerging feelings for both Gale and Peeta livened the story up, and I have to admit I'm interested to find out who she'll choose in subsequent books. I suppose Collins should get a pat on the back for showing young readers what our consumerist and reality TV-loving society might lead to. But this point has been so thoroughly discussed by others already, that there's not much point getting into it.

I can't quite put my finger on what drove me to finish this book in a single day. It might have been the relationship dynamic, it might have been the battle to the death, but then again, it might have been that I had nothing better to do that day, too. Either way, I've put a hold on my library's copy of the second book, Catching Fire. I'll wait to see whether Katniss continues to be like an overcooked porkchop: tough and dry. Maybe I'll get lucky and Peeta and Gale will choose each other, and Katniss can fade out of the storyline.

Copy source: library
Genre: young adult science fiction
Format: hardcopy

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