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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favour!
The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins.‘
–The Hunger Games, page 18
Unless you have been living on the moon for the past few months, you’ve surely heard of the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Wherever you go, Sainsburys, Waterstones, WHSmiths, they have it. But what’s it about?
Well, North America has changed. The nation of Panem has taken center stage, where an authoritative government rules from a shining capital surrounded by twelve districts. The people living in these districts are under the complete control of a cruel government which uses the annual Hunger Games to keep them in line.
Katniss Everdeen is a sixteen year old girl living in the twelfth district – a region where coal is the primary industry and starvation is always a threat. When the lottery system chooses Katniss’s younger sister, Prim, to participate in the deadly Hunger Games, Katniss does the unthinkable … she volunteers herself in her sister’s place. Katniss is joined by the soft-spoken son of the district’s bakery, a boy named Peeta whose generosity once saved Katniss and her family from death. As the two travel to the capital and are prepped for the competition, their connection to each other evolves into a tentative friendship. But nothing can truly prepare Peeta and Katniss for the violence, fear and cruelty of the game where participants must use all their survival skills to kill or be killed.
‘Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. The Hunger Games have begun...’
The Hunger Games is an addictive, exciting, dramatic and an unputdownable book. Every line makes you want to read on and uncover the next turn of the plot as more action occurs. Narrated by the female protagonist Katniss, you feel a deep connection as she travels through the Hunger Games and attempts to defeat the capital, all the while trying to understand how she feels about Peeta.
The novel looks at themes which are extremely relevant in today’s world: such as: freedom, government interference in individual lives, the power of the media, and the lure of violence. Katniss finds herself being prepared to appeal to the “viewers”. She has to, seeing as her success in the games is dependent on whether or not she is liked, as well as whether she can find “sponsors” to assist her.
The entertainment value of violence is blown up by the government who televise competitor interviews before and after the games. As well as manipulating the game and it’s ‘players’ to maximize emotion and passion.
Although the book is quite violent, it is tainted by the overwhelming emotions which the characters have and your will to help them get what they desire. Suzanne Collins allows the characters to make their own moral decisions in the face of brutality. This is, in my opinion, the strength of the book– that despite a strict and unyielding authority, individual choice is still possible.
Whether this is your normal type of read or not, go and get it. You will not be let down. The Hunger Games will leave you wanting more and waiting for the film.
The Hunger Games is out on DVD on March 23rd, 2012