The Hunger Games review

28 Aug

After the Twilight phenomenon started to die down teenage girls around the world were on the lookout for the next big thing. That thing was Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Intrigued by all I had heard about it, and unable to borrow it from the library because the waiting list was THAT long, I found a cheap copy online and took a chance on it.

Hunger Games Cover

The story is of a 16 year old, Katniss Everdeen, who is from an area called District 12 in the post-apocalyptic country of Panem (once the United States of America). As punishment for an uprising 74 years ago the Capitol “reaps” a young man and young woman from each district to compete in the annual Hunger Games. During these games the young men and women, known as tributes, must fight to the death for the honour of being crowned the King or Queen of the Hunger Games. Katniss’ younger sister gets chosen as the tribute for District 12 originally, but Katniss volunteers to take her place.

Peeta Mellark, an old school peer of hers, is chosen as the male tribute from District 12 after Katniss volunteers, and together they set off to the Capitol to train and be paraded in front of the public before the start of the games. Katniss is unimpressed by the Capitol and Effie Trinket, the District 12 escort, gives up on trying to teach Katniss manners because of her straight-forward personality and her habit of speaking before the thinks.

District 12’s only former champion, the perpetually drunk Haymitch Abernathy, is Peeta and Katniss’ mentor for The Hunger Games, helping them to win sponsors and make it through the games. To start off with, Haymitch doesn’t like Katniss and Peeta’s attitudes, Katniss being too serious and Peeta being persistent. In the end however, Haymitch relents and promises to do his best for the tributes, even though he has no hope of them winning. Haymitch makes Katniss see that if she is to stand a chance in the arena, there is a game she has to play. Katniss realises that this is the only way she can keep the promise that she made to Primrose to win the games and make it home safely.

During the training in the Capitol, Katniss manages to impress the game makers earning her the highest score out of the 24 tributes. This means the other tributes will be looking to kill her quickly as she is a threat to them winning.

It takes a while to get to the actual Hunger Games but Collins’ first person narrative is very engaging. You read the book as if you are Katniss, in the middle of everything, with no way out. The action begins there, and Collins doesn’t shy away from some of the more gruesome deaths. Katniss proves to be a very able young woman, if rather impetuous: she would rather act than think at times.

Katniss is resourceful in the games, and still manages to defy the Capitol and its wishes. The first person narrative helps you understand what she does and why she does it. Unlike the Twilight series, which shares a similar love triangle situation, The Hunger Games has a female character who cannot be accused of being a Mary Sue.

Personally, I could have done with reading these books when I was a bit younger. The style, as I have pointed out, is engaging, you get carried through the story no problem, but I think I’m too old for the book to have struck a proper chord with me. If I was younger, around the age I was when I discovered Twilight, I would adore this series. As it was, I got caught up in the first book, surrounded by the hysteria that the movie brought with it; but even though I purchased the second two books I have still not read them! I just cannot connect with Katniss, her relationship issues with Peeta, or her sacrifice for her sister. The book is compelling, the story is well executed but for me – I’m sorry Hunger Games fans! – I’m just too old now.

It is easy to see why the character of Katniss Everdeen resonates with teenagers and young adults. Even though she is a character in the future there is a lot about her that taps into the feeling of not wanting to be ruled by an external source and quietly fighting to make your own changes. Katniss is a role model for teenage girls (and women) everywhere who want to quietly fight the system and just get on with their lives (we’re ignoring the fact that she’s in a TV show where she has to kill people to survive). The power of Katniss comes from her desire to just get things done without being changed. From the moment she saves her sister from the reaping, Katniss is convinced that she will die.

So if you are looking for a book with a strong female protagonist, fighting in her own quiet way against a repressive system, then look no further than The Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire! And the girl who can show you how to just be yourself. For that, award yourself 4 out of 5 arrows.

May the Odds Ever Be in Your Favour!

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