Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In an oppressive, dystopian American future, the twelve Districts must send two ‘Tributes’, selected by lottery, for the Hunger Games – a brutal competition where the winner is the last one alive. Tributes are between the ages of twelve and eighteen and sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place.

Life for the Everdeens in District 12 is a constant battle against starvation, and Katniss provides food and money through illegal hunting in the woods. She is certain she will die in the Hunger Games – some tributes have trained their entire lives for the Games, are stronger, bigger, smarter than Kat and the District’s second Tribute, baker’s son, Peeta.

Katniss is aware the Games are for the televised entertainment of the decadent Capitol, and the mental torture of the other districts. As the Game continues, she begins to understand that she may have a chance after all.

While this is a Young Adult novel, Hunger Games will capture the imagination of older readers. Suzanne Collins has created a nightmarish future of hard-scrabble survival for the Districts as a reminder of who rules the country of Penam following a rebellion seventy years past. It’s a brutal life for all except the citizens of the Capitol.

Katniss displays all the emotional insecurity of a teenager and has a belligerent determination to do the best she can, even pretending Peeta is the love of her life to ensure the support of ‘sponsors’ who send gifts into the Games. The consequences of which will, I’m sure, be explored in later books.

The characters are well-crafted, the world-building is excellent and the political system disturbingly real.

It’s a rare book that will keep me up to wee hours. It’s even rarer for me to keep thinking about a novel. This is a masterpiece that wrenches an emotional response from the reader. The ethical and moral dilemmas Kat faces are heart-stopping.

Suzanne Collins is an author to watch. This is a book I recommend to anyone.

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