The Hunger Games...no matter what you think: good, bad, or undecided, there's certainly no denying that it's everywhere, and it's here to stay for the foreseeable future. I have some relatives who've been raving about it for months, so I finally decided to check it out. Of course I know my little review probably isn't actually necessary (there's already over 8,000 reviews on Amazon alone!), but I decided to go ahead and write it anyway. After all, it's categorized as YA fiction, which is part of what I try to cover. :)
Book Cover and Synopsis:
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?
the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of
Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The
Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing
them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and
eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death
on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone
with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when
she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss
has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature.
Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to
win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival
against humanity and life against love.
The Hunger Games...what can I say? I'm somewhat hesitant to admit to enjoying this book...but honestly, I found it quite interesting and very intriguing. The subject matter is abominable when you think about it, yet for a generation that's been raised on reality shows where it's common-place to eliminate a player each week, The Hunger Games definitely has a familiar feel. The main difference here is that the players are reluctant children, and failure means death instead of simply being "voted out".
Katniss is likeable and easy to sympathize with; she's been through tougher times than most of us will ever know, but she's a fighter and is full of determination. Family is extremely important to her, in fact she breaks the law nearly every day just to feed her mother and sister. (It's actually her love for her sister that brings Katniss into the Hunger Games, she basically sacrifices herself to take her sister's place.) Katniss doesn't believe the structure and actions of her government are correct, and she knows the whole ideal of the Hunger Games is warped.... however, the Capitol City has zero tolerance for rebellion or protests of any kind, so Katniss keeps her beliefs to herself, knowing she would be killed for speaking them out loud.
Peeta, who is the other tribute (or player) in the Games from Katniss's district, is also very interesting to watch. There's much more to him than you might think at first glance. He has the ability to evoke such a wide range of emotions from me...a couple times his actions confused me, giving me pause to ponder his intentions, but other times I felt sadness and sympathy for him, and still other times he had me smiling in silent laughter. He's an excellent character, and I really enjoyed how he and Katniss played off each-other.
For those wondering about the gore and violence factor, obviously just from reading the synopsis you can tell this is not a "warm and fuzzy" book...but in my opinion, considering the extreme subject matter, it's handled fairly well. There is violence and gore, but I wouldn't call it gratuitous or drawn-out; it was actually milder than I expected. The entire story is told from Katniss's perspective; she has limited contact with most of the players (many she doesn't even know their names), and thankfully she isn't present every time a player is eliminated.
I can definitely see why The Hunger Games has everyone's attention. It's extremely intriguing and you just can't help but want/need to know what will happen next. I hesitate to associate the word "entertaining" with it, but honestly, it really is. It's a picture of a warped futuristic version of Survivor, in a society where life has no value and the government has complete and total reign over the people. Katniss knows things aren't right, and I'm really looking forward to seeing if she's somehow able to bring change to her world over the course of the next two books.
My Rating: 5 stars
Note: In this case, my rating of 5 stars is based on my enjoyment of the story and isn't necessarily an endorsement or recommendation. I realize the nature of the plot is touchy, so please use your own discretion when deciding if The Hunger Games is appropriate for you or your children.