Friday, 3 December 2010

The Hunger Games - By Suzanne Collins

Author: Suzanne Collins
Date of release: January 2009 (UK)
Number of pages: 460
Publisher: Scholastic
Also by this author: Catching Fire (book 2), Mockingjay (book 3)

Book Girl Rating: * * * * *
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before—and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever... 
Set in a future country that was once known as America, a set of cruel and sadistic games take place, as a punishment to the districts for an earlier rebellion.  Twelve boys and twelve girls from the differing districts must battle in a futuristic arena - a battle to the death - in which only one can survive.  When Katniss Everdeen steps up to take her younger sister's place in the games, she holds little hope that she'll survive, with the weight of the world on her shoulders - can she withstand the veritable death sentence before her?

I adored this book from the first chapter.  In a genre that is dominated by supernatural romances, The Hunger Games provided the most intriguing story and set of characters; not to mention a fast-paced ride of anticipation throughout.

Firstly-Katniss, our protagonist, has such a commanding presence and she makes the best kind of heroine; instantly likeable, feisty and independent.  But I guess she’s had to be; after caring for her family for a long time, hunting and providing for her mother and younger sister, survival is something she's learned.

The characters make up a big part of this story, from the fantastic Peeta and adorable Prim, there’s nothing you wouldn’t do to free these characters of the anguish the world brings them.  Secondly, the story is utterly fantastic and as Katniss reveals more about the Games during subsequent chapters, you realise just what a fight it is for her and her family in this world.  In a story that keeps you constantly guessing, it's suspenseful in the best possible way - and Katniss's first person narrative ensures we're right there in the action with her.

Suzanne Collins has a fantastic way of writing, particularly when describing the country of Panem, the land that rose out of post-apocalyptic North America; as this divided and in parts, depleted society – one that is now subject to control and surveillance.  Collins' dystopian narrative says it all: it's the kind of futuristic nightmare that squashes the hope of true freedom.  Yet despite this, Collins' makes it hopeful through the characters she presents - in the face of unquestionable adversity.  
The Hunger Games is exactly what a fantasy novel should be, exciting, gripping, suspenseful and heartbreaking.  Katniss and Peeta have you holding on to this rollercoaster of uncertainty right to the very end.  I can’t wait to read Catching Fire, the second book in this fantastic, character-driven series.  In fact, I’m starting it right now!

Reviewed as part of Nat's Little Reading Challenge.

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