Monday, July 27, 2009

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

*Note: For me, this novel was difficult to describe without possibly saying too much so it may be considered to have spoilers. I also think that if you want to read this book it may be to your advantage to just read it without knowing too much about it first. It might be best that way.
And yes, I recommend reading it obviously.

I was warned that I would not be able to put this book down after I started reading it but I read it anyway. Not only did I read it fast because it was hugely entertaining, I just couldn't put it down. This is a dystopian novel in the most terrifying sense of that word since The Hunger Games is a dangerous game where it is basically "a survival of the fittest" on live television. The last person standing, or the so-called victor, wins fame, glory and food supplies. It is promised that their life will be easier and they will live in the best housing of their district. These Games are considered the best entertainment ever produced from the Capitol's point of view and it is the only thing televised while it is taking place.
It is complex as it deals with primitive human nature much like William Golding's classic, The Lord of the Flies, which forces you to view the effects of their society that has gone horribly wrong. The difference in The Hunger Games is the adults are still in control of the government and forcing their will on the citizens by using the Games to remind everyone that rebellion doesn't get you anywhere or anything. Each district is forced to have two of their youth, one boy/one girl, participate in the Games and they are called tributes. They are randomly chosen by lottery, although the lottery is not fair at all. First, each youth's name is entered a certain number of times according to age and then the youth could choose to have their name entered in more times for a simplistic ration of grain and oil from the government in order to supplement their family's already sparse rations of food. The basic need of food and the quest for survival are two of this novel's overall themes.
Collins creates her world in the U.S. that has become corrupt and completely ruined now renamed Panem. It has been reorganized into districts that are each responsible to provide a different essential for the Capitol, the governing city of Panem. The districts know very little, if anything, about each other and what they do. All the districts have to do the task that is required of them and they are compelled to rely on the government in some way for their very survival. It is not a good system at all but this new world is their horrifying reality. Collins has done an amazing job describing it!
Not only are Collins descriptions fantastic but her characters are memorable and likable considering the setting and the virtual bloodbath the games represent I think that is quite an achievement!

* Definite spoilers from this point on:

The main character is Katniss Everdeen who hunts, scraps and does whatever she can to make sure that her mother and little sister have what they need to eat and survive. She is a sixteen year old teenager who after the death of her father has been forced to grow up too fast not to mention she is fighting for her life. Her teenage character was well balanced with her courage to think and and feel as smart in acting like an adult at times but then at other times be clueless and not willing to notice, believe, or trust others that come into her path. All very interesting and proved to help the pacing of the novel quite a bit because I wanted to know more about Katniss.
Other characters that stood out to me are Katniss's little sister Prim, her friend Gale who helps and hunts with her and her fellow tribute to compete with her in the Games, Peeta Mellark. Also introduced as Katniss prepares for the games are Haymitch, Cinna, and Avox girl which were each hard to forget in their own right. Haymitch is a former tribute and victor of the Games from her District, Cinna is her uber talented hairstylist for the Opening Ceremonies of the Games and I found myself dreaming about that mysterious red-headed Avox girl and what really happened to her...? A couple of the tributes that she interacts with, whether for good or evil, in the Games who also stood out for me were Rue, Cato, Foxface and Thresh. You learned only a very little about each one of them yet they still remained with you somehow.
One of my favorite lines from the book which features the pin given to Katniss by the Mayor's daughter, Madge,
"It's as if someone fashioned a small golden bird and then attached a ring around it. The bird is connected to the ring only by its wing tips. I suddenly recognize it. A mockingjay."
This is what is on the books' cover as the image matches the description of the pin.
There is so much that I have taken away from this book whether I wanted to or not, it will definitely be something I'll think about for a while. I can't wait for Book # 2!

384 pages, Sept. 14, 2008, My rating: 4.5 stars


L said...

You're smart to read this right before the next one comes out! I had to wait almost a year - sigh. I'm really excited for the next installment. Lots of good books coming out this fall. Ya-hoo!

Great review!

Julie said...

Lula, I agree with you that there are lots of good books coming out this fall!
I'm glad that I finally was introduced and that I caught up with reading "The Hunger Games." I can't wait to hear yours and others review's of Book # 2 - "Catching Fire" when it comes out.


Amanda said...

I love love love this book, and can't wait for book club tonight!! I didn't have a chance to reread it, though. Ah well. I read it twice in April. I'm one of those people who actually didn't care if there was a sequel. I liked the way the book ended. Of course, that won't stop me from getting Catching Fire the first moment I can get my hands on it! Up at ALA, at the Scholastic brunch they gave an ARC to everyone! So lucky! They also gave them a little mockingjay pin, and one librarian who wasn't really into the book so much gave me hers! She said she'd give me the book, too, except she had friends at home that would kill her if she did. She was very nice. So if I remember, I'm wearing that mockingjay pin tonight!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Lots of people have seemed to enjoyed this book. I'll have to put it on my list; thanks

hamilcar barca said...

arghh. but it's gonna be a trilogy at least. other than that it sounds great!

Amanda said...

Just a trilogy, she's said.

Rebecca Reid said...

I do look forward to reading it, but I think I'll wait a few years until all of them have been written. I don't have that kind of patience otherwise! It sounds great, but horrifying

Julie said...

Everyone - Thanks for all of your comments. I'm glad I read this book - it is exceptional!

I was so excited and also enjoyed the book club discussion on this book at the library yesterday. I loved so many insights that were shared and it reminded me of more.
Amanda- I also did love your mockingjay pin! I'm glad you remembered to wear it for us to see.

Amanda said...

I wrote out a note for myself and sort of obsessed about remembering all afternoon. I thought I was going to forget! Thankfully I didn't. :) Book club was great. I'm glad I was able to reread the book yesterday.

Serena said...

I really enjoyed this novel and am now on the edge of my seat waiting for Catching Fire to be released and make its way to my mailbox.

I've added a link to your review here:

Jena said...

It took me a week to get my head out of this book. I had to lend it to a friend (unasked) to keep myself from diving in a third time!