Genre: Dystopian sci-fi
Civilization as we know it is a thing of the past in The Hunger Games. In her first book for teens, successful children’s author Suzanne Collins nails the post-apocalyptic themes. But the focus isn’t on the things that people have lost, but the way life is in the rough and violent nation of Panem. In the middle of twelve districts lies the capitol city; beautiful, sparkling, and vindictive beyond measure. Their means of control? Forcing each district to send one boy and one girl annually to participate in the Hunger Games— a futuristic reality TV show where they must fight to the death until there’s only one standing, while being filmed for all to watch.
I picked up this book because of a shining review from another author. When someone says that they had to sneak reading under the dinner table, it makes me take notice. And I wasn’t disappointed. The story is thrust forward very quickly, with significant plot development happening within the first thirty pages. And even though these initial ideas are revealed on the book jacket, I still felt tension as I waited to see what would happen and how the story would pan out.
On the morning of the choosing of the boy and girl–darkly named the “Day of Reaping”–we meet Katniss Everdeen, our protagonist, and the people closest to her: her best friend and fellow hunting buddy, her vacant and distant mother, and the love of her life, her twelve-year-old sister. After a surprising twist it ends up being Katniss who represents the girl for her district twelve at the Hunger Games, and this is where our tale truly begins.
After the initial thrust of story, the plot flows like a rollercoaster, moving ever-upward, along with frequent mini-climaxes which keep the tension building. You are left in the dark a lot of the time with the protagonist, which is scary, considering ignorance for her is literally a life or death situation. The fact that it is written in first-person present tense only adds to that feeling. But, even in the midst of terror and survival, there is a lovely development of intimate connections between a few of the characters, some ending in tragedy, others with results we have yet to see. A significant thing I noticed is that the author leads you to believe that the final climax is exactly where you think it should be. However, once everything seems okay, she throws a wrench in the whole thing, immediately bringing the tension back and leaving you wondering about the outcome.
The ending was splendidly written, but it left me seriously unsettled. I was surprised to find out that this book was a first in a series, something I didn’t know when I first picked it up (I initially read it before the sequels were published). That definitely explained the loose ends! There was a part of me that wanted a happier ending, especially after all the trials Katniss was subjected to. Still, knowing that we haven’t left her forever allows the conclusion to fit the story perfectly. I couldn’t wait for the next installment.
Written By: Lauren Z.