Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


YA Dystopian Literature (374 pgs.)


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 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 weigh survival against humanity and life against love.


Alright, I admit that I am probably the last person on the face of planet Earth to read this novel. Every time I was asked if I have read this series, I was always greeted with shock and disbelief when I answered in the negative. I just have never found the dystopian genre appealing, whatsoever. And the idea of kids killing kids in a televised reality-type shindig was really not my cup of tea. So, when my mom brought this novel home one evening (a hopeful attempt to get my brother, who hates reading, to read) I decided I might as well read it and get it done with.

I finished it in 9 hours, reading non-stop. But let's not everyone jump out of their seats just yet.

First off, I have to give credit to Suzanne Collins. I can't even begin to fathom what kind of imagination she has to come up with a story like this. I just kept thinking to myself, as I was reading, "wow, a human being came up with this. Somebody actually imagined this world." That aspect of the novel just blew me away.

The plot was excellently paced. Definitely a page-turner. I wouldn't be surprised if my brother actually enjoyed a novel for once. There is plenty of action and some of the plot twists had me freaking out. Even though I tend to freak out a lot, this is definitely saying something. But let's not get off track here.

I also very much enjoyed Collins' writing. It flowed very well. Even though she is not heavy on the descriptions, the reader easily falls into the world of Panem. She has definitely mastered the art of trusting the reader and their imaginations. She won the author's battle that is as old as time itself: showing vs. telling. Suzanne Collins showed me the story, the characters, the places. Very powerful and masterful writing. Well done.

I think one of the main things this novel thrives on are its universal themes. Themes such as oppression, bravery, open-mindedness all resonated very well with the reader. I think that is why this series has been enjoyed world-wide. It really take a thorough examination of  humanity, both its flaws and its strengths. 

Alright, for those of you who are superfans of the series, please don't bite my head off. I just have to get this gripe out and be completely honest.

Gripe #1. Katniss. Yes, I thought she was very well written, it's just that at the end of the novel, I still felt only a superficial connection between us. I don't exactly know the rhyme or reason for this, as Collins provided excellent narration and backstory, I just felt there was a paper-thin wall of glass existing between us by the end of the novel that kept me from really getting to know/believing in Katniss Everdeen. Actually, I lied, I do have a theory.

I think Katniss' character had a bit of the "curse of the series." I feel that, had this novel been written without a sequel/series in mind, Collins would have put that last bit of effort into opening Katniss up to the readers completely. I know this is supposed to make the reader finish the rest of the series, it's just I didn't feel that deep of a connection with her. 

But all in all, I thought this novel was very, very well done. Like I said before, the whole dystopian thing is definitely not my cup of tea, however, that did not hinder me from discovering that this was a very good read. I applaud Suzanne Collins for the depth of her imagination and the craft of her writing. If, like me, you have passed up this book so far, please read it. You won't regret it.

Oh, and one more thing... may the odds be ever in your favor.



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