Saturday, March 20, 2010

Book Review: "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

It is the future, and the nation of Panem has arisen out of what was once North America. Panem is represented by a glorious Capitol, and the world Panem rules is divided into 12 Districts, each focused on a particular industry, like agriculture or coal mining. Those in power remind the citizens of Panem just how insignificant they are once a year, by forcing each District to choose one boy and one girl to represent it in the Hunger Games, a battle of survival televised to all citizens. The contestant who wins the Hunger Games spends the rest of their life as a celebrity to their District and all of Panem, while the other contestants meet their fate at the hands of one another.

Katniss Everdeen is a 16-year-old resident of District 12. She steps forward to take her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games, and although she expects it to be a quick death sentence, she realizes she actually wants to survive, and win. But what she faces in the Games—both physically and emotionally—is far beyond anything she could imagine, because much like our own reality shows, the Capitol manipulates the circumstances of the Games.

This book hooked me from the very start. While the creation of a new world out of the one we know isn't new, Collins' depiction of Katniss' life and the description of the circumstances around the Hunger Games is tremendously compelling. Having watched more than my share of reality shows and knowing how "real" they are, I still was captivated by the Games themselves. And while I had suspicions of how the story would unfold, I still was excited to finish the book, and plan to read the next two books in the series. If I had any criticism of the book, it's that its main character was a 16-year-old girl, so some of the rationale behind Katniss' actions, and her reactions to situations, were a little childish, but this didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. But I am drawing the line at this YA series...

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