~posted by guest blogger, Cady Anderson
Book Review – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
At this point there’s almost no one who hasn’t heard the phrase, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” The popularity of the phrase is a testament to the work of art and social commentary created by Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games. As with many “trendy” reads, I adamantly resisted reading The Hunger Games initially. But when a trusted mentor proclaimed this series as a “must-read” I decided to take the plunge. I was blown away! Immediately, I was swept up in the plot and conflict, the challenges characters are forced to face, and Katniss’ story.
The Hunger Games opens as citizens of District 12 prepare for the 74th annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death among young tributes from the Districts of the Capitol-controlled Panem. The protagonist is 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen: friends with Gale – a fellow hunter, older sister to Prim, and daughter of a grief-stricken mother who is mourning the loss of her husband. In the first chapter, the reader is introduced to the Capitol, District 12, Katniss, and the circumstances of Katniss’ world through a combination of flashbacks and descriptions of Katniss’ day as she prepares for the selection of the tributes, known as the Reaping. Against all odds – Katniss’ sister is chosen as a tribute for the Hunger Games. Katniss volunteers to take her place as tribute. Katniss, and her fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark, are swept up in the trap of the Games making choices necessary to survive. Katniss’ decisions extend well beyond the competition and the reader is invited into a dangerous game that will have consequences for Katniss, her family, and Panem.
To me, Katniss is an immensely likable character, although not all readers feel that way. Katniss’ ability and desire to survive creates tension for readers and her choices or lack of choices can be a source of frustration. But her ability to survive is what I admire most about her. Katniss’ heart aches from having grown up in a cruel world where happiness was not a luxury she could afford. Her response to her heartache is to become stoic, caring only for her sister. But the games change her, in ways that the reader can see, but Katniss cannot. This is just one of the many joys of reading this book.
The plot and world Collins created is incredibly complex. The concepts of the nation of Panem, the Capitol, the Districts, and the objective of the games are explained quickly in the first few chapters. But despite the copious amount of information, Collins quickly lures readers into a new world in a way that allows the reader the pleasure of being able to get lost in Panem and thus the plot of the book. While reading, I was able to completely believe in the possibility of this world and these events, evidence to the strength of Collins’ writing. In this way, I believe The Hunger Games is comparable to the Harry Potter series; both books allow readers to become lost in a different world.
Not only is the plot riveting, the characters endearing, and the challenges epic (surviving in an arena where your peers are trying to murder you in order to win a game is about as challenging as it gets), but the book leads to a trilogy that explores topics such as revolution, resistance, corruption, power, social responsibility, community, and the purpose and function of government. Due to the depth of these different themes, in addition to the basic plot line, this is a book that begs to be read over and over again.