Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games has rapidly risen to become a must read for young adults around the world. I came across it for the first time at a Scholastic Book Fair a year ago and gave it a try. 

The Hunger Games is set in a country Panem, which is sometime after the destruction of North America. Panem is a country where there is one ultra-rich and extremely technologically advanced Capitol, with twelve other districts. These districts are exploited by the Capitol. They are poor, backward and brutally suppressed. At one point, these districts (there were thirteen at the time) had revolted but were put down by the Capitol. As a punishment, the Capitol introduced the Hunger Games. In these, one boy and one girl of ages 12-18 from each district were selected every year to participate in a fight to the death. 

Katniss Everdeen  is a sixteen year old girl from District 12 who volunteered to participate in the Games in place of her younger sister, Prim, who was originally selected. She goes along with a boy called Peeta Mellark, who has secretly had a crush on her for some time now. Their only coach is a drunk , paunchy, middle-aged man called Haymitch Abernathy. He is the only one from District 12 to ever have won the Hunger Games. Together they must try and survive the Game knowing all to well that at some point they will have to face each other.

The Hunger Games is a perfect example of what a young adult book should look like. It has the right amount of suspense, romance, action and laughs. Its is a wonderful change from other books in the genre which almost always feature werewolves, vampires, dragons, magicians, or anything else of the sort. It opens up this video game-like feeling. You know- run, dodge, jump, collect the power-ups, survive. At the same time, it has a very intricate story woven into it, which builds up till the end, keeping you guessing over what will happen next. Just what any book needs.

Quite surprisingly, I found that this book wasn't too predictable. When it started out with Katniss saying how much she loved her sister and how improbable it was for here to get selected for the Games among the hundreds of other children out there, I thought the whole book would reveal events so obviously. But that wasn't the case. Collins has also set up the story quite nicely for the next book, Catching Fire, which is equally good, if not better. I can't wait for the final book, Mockingjay, to release on August 24.

As I said before, this is a must read for all young adults (maybe adults wouldn't find this too fascinating).

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