“You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope.”
If you’re not living under the proverbial literary rock like I am, you’ve probably already read or heard about The Hunger Games, the first in a three-part series by Suzanne Collins. Well, the time finally came for me to sit down and read this thing cover to cover.
In this post-revolutionary world, the United States has been divided into a twelve district society called Panem, run by the all-seeing dictatorship city called The Capitol. In an attempt to keep their citizens in their place, The Capitol holds a yearly ritual called the Hunger Games, where two citizens (Ages 12 to 18 need only apply) of each district – chosen via lottery style – fight in a battle to the death.
Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen lives in the poor mining community called the Seam in District 12. Fighting to survive, Katniss illegally hunts and gathers food outside the district fence, in order to put food on the table for her mother and younger sister, Prim. The time comes to announce the contestants of the upcoming Hunger Games, when Prim’s name is called, Katniss volunteers to take her place – leaving behind her prospective love interest and best friend, Gale. To complicate things even further for our heroine, she inexplicably feels a connection to the other District 12 contestant, Peeta Mellark, but is unsure if her feelings are real or manufactured by the omnipresent cameras. In the arena, it’s Katniss’ knowledge of plants, hunting, and self-preservation that give her the upper-hand in the Hunger Games.
While I found the story sufficiently well-written, it was mostly told in first person narration. It left me wanting more of the microscopic amount of witty banter between Peeta and Katniss, and more dialogue in general. At times, it felt as if Collins took the easy and unimaginative route for her characters, such as the sudden unexplained and implausible rule changes for this static game. Yet, the story was entertaining and well-paced.
What stood out most for me, were the character relationships. Katniss basically sacrifices herself to keep her sister safe, and clings to that thought of family throughout the book. And in the end, does the same for Peeta – even though she is still unsure of her feelings. The dynamic between Katniss & Peeta, while very familiar, is one of the high points in the book. Their evolving relationship goes from being complete parallel’s of one another (longing to connect), to mistrust on Katniss’ side, to their shared faith in their transforming friendship, but ultimately Katniss’ conflicting feelings dominate whatever progress they had made. Through everything, these characters relationship with one another is one of the most significant story-lines in the book.
Overall, I liked it. It was an enjoyable, simple, and fast paced read. However, I didn’t get that feel of satisfaction after reading it. I wanted to see more from the characters. More of their world (the mythology of Panem) and how that directly effected Katniss – her thoughts and actions. As a soon-to-be made big-budget film, I think that if done right, it actually may surpass the novel. Straying away from the super focused narrative in the book, and delving into the other bits and pieces of story-line and characters, I think, will allow the audience to have a better understanding of this intriguing fictional world.
Book Rating: B-
Have you read The Hunger Games? What did you think? Favorite character? Favorite scene? Have you read the entire series? Tell me in the comments!