The Hunger Games
This book is a phenomenon in and unto itself. I was torn between reading it all in one sitting or drawing it out as long as I possibly could in order to savour the intelligent, crackling writing style, the cleverly constructed characters and the deeply disturbing plotline, the effects of which refuse to leave me long after I have turned the final page. The America of the future (called Panem) Collins depicts is a broken country, split into districts, originally numbering thirteen, which fall under the tyrannical rule of the Capitol. The districts, each of which carries out a specific function aimed at benefiting the Capitol, are increasingly poorer the further down the numerical line they sit. Following the uprising of the now non-existent District Thirteen, the Capitol has introduced a means of keeping the remaining districts under wraps by staging a hideous reality show entitled the Hunger Games, designed to remind the districts of the Capitol’s total control of the country. Each district is forced to draw the names of two children between the ages of twelve and eighteen, labelled “tributes”, to enter into the competition, whereby they must act on the simplest of rules – kill or be killed. Katniss Everdeen comes from District Twelve, where coal is mined, and is the sole provider for her small family unit. When her younger sister Prim’s name is called for entry into the Hunger Games, she immediately steps forward and volunteers to take her place, alongside demure male entrant Peeta Mellark. Katniss and Peeta are showered in luxury before entering the training program necessary for all the entrants, where they are faced with competitors of terrifying strength and ability. The staff allocated to monitor District 12’s tributes order Katniss and Peeta to appear as though they are close friends so as to intimidate their competition, but the reality is that soon the pair will be pitted against one another in a bloody fight to the death.
The Hunger Games serves up a horrifying vision of a future where nothing is stable. Collins delves deeply into issues of childhood and love, probing the question of whether one life is worth more than another in an eerie and disturbing novel. Katniss is an endearing narrator, whose strength of character and morality are a shining light set against the dark and grisly subject matter. This book will keep you enthralled all the way through. As it is a part of a trilogy, I found myself fervently trying to figure out what the following two books would be about. My guesses were nowhere near close, as Collins delivers a plot twist to keep you hanging for next book, Catching Fire, released in America in September. It can’t come soon enough!