Title: THE HUNGER GAMES
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genere: Science Fiction, Young Adults, Adventure
Rating: 8 a story with great potential
Summary: In a post-apocalyptic world, a terrifying reality TV shows is taking place: Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to participate in The Hunger Games, a televised event whereby the participants must fight to the death in an outdoor arena until only one remains.
When Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her beloved younger sisters place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But survival is her second nature; she stays clear out of the initial fights over water, food and weapons, runs into the wilderness and puts as much distance as she can between herself and the others. Years of illegal hunting, hunger and dangerous work in the coal mines have taught her to survive in a bleak environment. While the competitors get killed one after another by a gang of ambitious participants, Katniss starts to hope against hope that maybe just maybe she may stay alive long enough to go home. But she knows that in the end she will have to kill herself, if she doesnt want to be killed. Can she forget the difference between humans and animals and shoot her own kind just like the game in the woods at home?
Notes: Usually, Sci-Fi is not my cup of tea, but this book is somewhat different, as it focuses on the characters and not on the technology. Superior technology is merely used to make the plot possible: The participants must be filmed day and night while moving through a huge arena that is partially covered with woods. It must be possible to bring their faces close-up on screen to make the spectators care, make them choose favorites and place bets on the last survivor. The author says that the idea for the story came to her one day when she was channel-surfing, and the lines between a reality show competition and war coverage "began to blur in this very unsettling way. This combination comes across and something about it feels terrifying realistic and not at all farfetched.
Characters: The story focuses on a few characters that have enough edge to stay interesting during the whole book. The struggle of the protagonist to not care about her competitors she knows that she will either have to kill them or they will kill her is very vivid and Katniss stays believable something which is rare in this type of story! It lacks a bit in the department of the villains tough, which are all thugs. They are described as intelligent in the lines, but they dont come across as such.
There are several hints for complex relationships, which could become intriguing in the sequel. I particularly like, that Katniss is somewhat estranged from her mother, because she fell into a depression after the death of her husband and left Katniss utterly alone and in charge to keep her and her little sister alive. Now, the mother is well again, but Katniss isnt able to fully trust her anymore.
There is some romance in the story, and Katniss is portrayed as an insecure teenage girl who doesnt know her feelings yet. Her emotions are more hinted at than described and therefore complete the plot rather than disrupt the story like for example the obnoxious romance in the Harry Potter books. The ending of the book isnt cheesy and makes me hope that Suzanne Collin knows more about the psychology of romance in a time of war than J.K. Rowlings.
Plot: ***** MINOR SPOILERS ***** To make it short: The ending is obvious the protagonist is going to survive and she isnt going to be the only one. But 454 pages are a rather long time to get what I have been able to predict after having read the summary on the cover
Still, the Hunger Games are written by a skilled author who knows how to create suspense. And this kind of stuff doesnt stay into my head after the last page anyway. Its the subplots concerning the characters and the politics of Panem (the name of the remains of North America in which THE HUNGER GAMES take place) that intrigues me and makes me want to read the sequel. Is there going to be a revolution? Am I right in my interpretation that some members of the elite of Panem are up to something possibly by using the Hunger Games? The poor people may be angry, but they are too busy to survive every day to have the leisure to plot against the ruthless government. If yes, Im definitely intrigued.
Suzanne Collins answers some questions at the end of the book and says: But once Id thought through to the end of the first book, I realized that there was no way that the story was concluded. Katniss does something that would never go unpunished in her world. There would definitely be repercussions. And so the question of whether or not to continue with a series was answered for me. Hence the author knows that she is cheating her own rules and announces that shes going to deal with it. I hope that shes going to do it right! ***** END OF THE SPOILERS *****
THE HUNGER GAMES is a very good book, but it lacks the humor to be a favorite book of mine. (The last one is clearly a personal preference, hence ignore it if you don't need humor.) The story doesn't have the (booring) longwindedness that is typical for books with dark themes tough, and is therefore agreeable to read. It's definitely a book with awesome potential and Im looking forward to see what the author makes out of it. The sequel is going to hit shelves this September and it is on the very top of my reading list!