Over the past few months, many of my friends and relatives have told me that “The Hunger Games” is fantastic and is something that I absolutely must read. I’ve been meaning to read it for a while, especially after the whole Darkness Too Visible controversy last summer. As the movie is coming out next month, I decided that it was finally time.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic North America, which is divided between the Capitol and thirteen districts. Around 75 years before the story begins, the districts revolted against the Capitol’s control. The revolution ended disastrously. District 13 was annihilated, and as punishment and a warning against future uprisings, the Hunger Games were created. The names of one boy and one girl from each district are drawn every year, and those children are sent to the Capitol as tribute, where they fight each other to the death in an arena.
Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist, is a teenager from District 12 who spends her days in the forests with her friend Gale, poaching to scavenge enough meat to feed their starving families. When that year’s tributes from District 12 are selected, Katniss’ little sister’s name is called. Katniss volunteers to take her place in order to save her life, and the Hunger Games begin. Meanwhile, Katniss is conflicted by her feelings for Gale and her feelings for Peeta, the male tribute from her district.
Collins’ writing is decent. She switches tenses in weird places at times, and the first book in the trilogy has some major editing issues, but at the same time, it’s the kind of book that is impossible to put down once you start reading it.
“The Hunger Games” is geared toward a young adult audience, and is a relatively quick read. The controversy surrounding this book comes from the fact that much of the plot is about kids killing kids. At the same time, the messages of the book promote self-sacrifice and trying to do the right thing despite enormous pressure, while taking a strong stand against authoritarianism. It certainly has a better message than “Lord of the Flies.”
I’m glad that I finally read “The Hunger Games,” and I think that it’s worth the read. It’s a fast-paced novel filled with adventure and complex themes, and I particularly recommend it for reluctant readers.
“The Hunger Games” also counts toward the Award Winning Books Reading Challenge hosted by Gathering Books, as it won a Golden Duck Award for Best Young Adult Fiction in 2009. The Golden Duck Awards promote science fiction literature for children and young adult audiences. “The Hunger Games” also won a 2011 California Young Reader Medal and a 2008 Cybil Award for Fantasy & Science Fiction.