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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I was lucky enough to win a copy of The Hunger Games in Cheryl Rainfield's giveaway not long ago. Thanks, Cheryl! I'd heard so much positive feedback on this one, that I went in with fairly high expectations. Fortunately, I was uninformed as to any particulars, so the entire premise was a surprise. All I knew was that it was dystopian. And that I liked the cover.

Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12--the furthest flung of the twelve districts of Panem--in what's left of North America. Every year the Capitol (the governing city of Panem) puts on the Hunger Games. The Games are a brutal reminder of the districts' failed rebellion. Each district is forced to offer up two of their youth as a tribute. Chosen by lottery, the 24 tributes are then forced to engage in a free-for-all battle to the death on live television. The victor wins fame, glory, and food and supplies for his or her district. This bloodbath is considered the height of entertainment in the Capitol. So far, so horrifying.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss is the sole provider for her family. With a mother barely able to go through the motions after her father died, and a younger sister who looks to her for everything, Katniss's days are consumed by hunting, trading, and bartering for their lives. Her one friend, a young man named Gale, leads a similar life and the two work as a team, eking out the bare essentials of existence for themselves and their families. Until the 74th Hunger Games roll around and Katniss's little sister is chosen for the tribute. Without a second thought, Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place. And just like that, the games are on. What I loved about this book was the grim world of Panem. Katniss's unenviable life goes from bleak to awful in the blink of an eye and the horror is never cut with cream. In fact, the creep factor only escalates with time and the whole thing ratchets up to a terrifying ending that I, for one, did not anticipate. Brava, Ms. Collins! Katniss herself grew on me until, by the end, I cared very much what happened to her and no longer blamed her so much for being quite so cold. Her situation is not (and never has been) conducive to warmth.

On a side note, this book reminded me quite a bit of Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Both have heroines with Kat names. Katniss and Katsa. Both girls are forced to kill to stay alive. Both are manipulated and lied to on a regular basis and, unsurprisingly, have difficulty sorting out their emotions and figuring out who to trust. Both of them find the possibility of eventual happiness an unlikely prospect at best. Both books built up to rather killer endings and, most frustratingly of all, both are the first books in a trilogy. I'm seriously going to have to go find myself a series entirely in print to help pass the time. I am always waiting for sequels...

Comments

  1. I'm glad that you liked it. If this book doesn't win some awards, I'll be very disappointed.

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  2. I'm still waiting for mine to show up in the mail.

    DA is having a Book Club discussion about Hunger Games today. I thought I'd let you know in case you didn't.

    http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2008/10/15/hunger-games-book-club-discussion/#more-6998

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  3. It certainly seems set to, Jen.

    I saw that, Brie. Very cool. Hope your copy arrives soon.

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  4. This was just a terrific, terrific book. I'm glad you liked it too!

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  5. Yep. The ending particularly really stuck with me. Loved it.

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  6. Nice review! I am really looking forward to reading this series.

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