Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with every one out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?The first thing I noticed about this book was the tense which the author uses: present tense. As in, "I grab the book, and open it to page 233." Katniss is the narrator, and the writing is very informal.
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 had a really hard time getting into The Hunger Games basically until the games themselves started. Katniss is clearly a very damaged girl, she's had a rough life. At first, I didn't really like her all that much, but as the Games wore on I started to like her a little more. I feel like despite the book being narrated by her, despite flashbacks, despite the fact she takes her sister's place, you really don't know much about Katniss until the Games begin. I understood a bit more about how she felt. I immediately liked Peeta, however. I think that distinction between Katniss's personality and Peeta's was well done. Their difference in upbringing and struggles is obvious.
You can't beat this story for originality. Sometimes dystopias can become routine when it's the same societal structure over and over. The Hunger Games is unlike anything I've personally ever read. I think that is at least part of why this book has garnered so much praise.
It is also an easy, fast read. It's exciting and it's brutal and it's dark. If I had children, I'm not sure I'd recommend they read this until they were older because it is pretty violent and...well...dark. Despite not maybe wanting to be friends with Katniss, I wanted her to succeed, and I wanted that shell of hers to crack and let Peeta into her heart. I got fairly into the book and I just had to stay up late last night and see what happened to the characters.
Personally, I want to know more about how all of this happened. How the heck the Capitol ended up the way it is, and who the rulers are that of 12 districts full of about 8,000 people, not one person seemed to rise up and rebel against their children being taken away.
But I'm not in a huge hurry to find out. Catching Fire has 30 people ahead of me to read it, Mockingjay has 57. As previously mentioned, I have mixed feelings about The Hunger Games. I enjoyed it, and it was entertaining. I can't say it was particularly well written, I'm afraid, but it wasn't a total train wreck either. I also hesitate to judge based on the writing, because I know it's a YA book and it's from the perspective of a very damaged and probably uneducated 16 year old girl. The story was very interesting, but the world wasn't as fleshed out as I like. I'm hoping that in subsequent books we'll find out more about Panem.
Overall, I enjoyed it while I was reading it. But when I go back and think about it, there are some things that could use improvement. I will read the subsequent books, but I'm not really rabid to get them, and I definitely don't understand the fuss surrounding these. I didn't love this book, but I did like it. Perhaps that will change after Catching Fire.
Overall Rating: 3.5 / 5
Buy or Try? Try
More? 1 of 3 in The Hunger Games trilogy
More? 1 of 3 in The Hunger Games trilogy
Plot: 4.5 / 5 (some plot holes, but not glaringly obvious)
Setting: 3 / 5
Characters: 3 / 5Style
Fantasy factor: Not Fantasy (dystopian)