Saturday, 18 April 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publication: Scholastic Print, 2008
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult
Page Count: 454

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives. In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death - televised for all of Panem to see. 
Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love. 

This was my third -- or perhaps fourth, I honestly cannot remember -- re-read of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, as I was not disappointed. I love returning to my old favourites and once again engaging with wonderful characters that I have not seen since last closing the book and placing it back on the shelf. The Hunger Games is, without a doubt, one of the best young adult fiction books that I have ever read. Why? Because it follows a strong and powerful heroine: sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen. The Hunger Games is from Katniss' perspective as she navigates her way throughout the trials of a frightening post-apocalyptic America: from the controlling and cruel Capitol, to their most outrageous, brutal and animalistic creation: The Hunger Games, which is a televised and celebrated event to keep the twelve separated districts in check.

Whilst there are various elements of The Hunger Games that I thoroughly enjoy -- from the wonderful array of characters to the heart-stopping action to the twists and turns -- it is the perfectly structured dystopian world that Suzanne Collins has created that captures my attention. There is an obvious distance between Katniss' poverty-stricken District 12 and the fabulous (and just as glamorous) Capitol. The way that Collins describes her settings throughout her use of a first-person narrative is probably one of The Hunger Games' greatest strengths. She captures every slight detail of the poverty of District 12 with such detail, which is as equally applied to her descriptions of the Capitol's wealth and power.

To be honest with you, at times Katniss can be a slightly annoying character. Though, perhaps this can be attributed to the first person narrative that readers are privileged to. Personally, I did not like her initial observations and feelings for Peeta Mellark. However, as The Hunger Games develops so does Katniss. There is a definite growth with Katniss' character, but it definitely takes about two-thirds of the way to get there. After she does, though, she becomes a wonderful, engaging and rememberable character.

There are probably a number of people that question whether or not they should read The Hunger Games after watching the wonderful movie adaption. Honestly, I would tell them that they definitely should. Suzanne Collins offers readers a much different perspective if you sit down and take the time to read it. This is because her novel is entirely in the first-person. Readers will definitely gain a much better and clearer understanding of Katniss' feelings, emotions and motives throughout the novel -- especially her relationships with her mother, sister, Gale and Peeta.

The Hunger Games may seem like a brutal, maybe even violent novel about the murder of teenagers. However, if you take the time to read this novel you will discover that the violence is not overly detailed and the novel focuses more on Katniss and the all-embracing control of the Capitol.

Have you read The Hunger Games? What did you think?

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