Thursday, 9 September 2010

Review: The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

The Hunger GamesCould you survive on your own, in the wild, with every one out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I'd heard so many amazing things about The Hunger Games that I couldn't help but be a little bit skeptical before I started reading it. Thankfully, this was one of those books that really did live up to the hype. Within a few pages I was already enthralled by the story and emotionally involved with the characters. In fact, page 24 brought tears to my eyes - something that doesn't happen often with me and definitely never so early in a book.

Collins' writing style is perfect, with enough detail in the descriptions when necessary without getting too carried away.Dystopian fiction by default has to have a lot of explaining of the world they are set in but at no part in The Hunger Games did it feel like this was taking over from the actual story. The world the author has created is an intriguing one, where the people in the twelve districts essentially live in poverty while they work to provide the luxuries for the people of the Capitol.

I found all of the characters really likeable and well written. Katniss is an excellent strong female lead. The death of her father had left her extremely protective of her younger sister, Prim, which ultimately leads to her becoming part of the Hunger Games in Prim's place. His death has also given her the skills to survive in the arena. Katniss also has to deal with her feelings towards her best friend, Gale, and her fellow contestant, Peeta and it's interesting to see how she copes with this alongside trying to stay alive.

There were two minor things that bugged me a little in this book - although neither enough to take away from the awesomeness of the rest of it. Firstly, towards the middle of the book I felt a little like "Get on with the games already" as up until that point the characters were preparing to enter the arena. While I found this interesting, it did drag on a little bit too much for my liking as I wanted to get to the action.

Secondly, I was a little bit disappointed in lack of violence considering the point of the games is to kill. Okay,  I know it's a young adult book and so it wasn't going to be bloodthirsty or anything but there were a whole lot of the contestants were killed with hardly any fighting mentioned at all. This was largely down to the story being of Katniss' point of view and therefore we didn't see those deaths where she wasn't around but even the first few where Katniss was present were pretty tame.

So yes, an awesomely written story with an engaging plot and fab characters that maybe could've done with a bit more fighting and killing (and some more steaminess between Katniss and Peeta! hee). The fact I went straight on to read Catching Fire - I literally only stopped long enough between the books to make coffee - probably tells how much I enjoyed this book. 

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