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Released in America in 2008 as a book, I hadn’t actually heard of The Hunger Games until I started seeing advertising for the film. I didn’t know anything about it but soon dismissed seeing it when I heard it was aimed at teenagers. I haven’t really got into any of the franchises aimed at teens such as Twilight so I figured I wouldn’t like The Hunger Games, but when my best friend started telling me she couldn’t put the book down and it was amazing I thought I should look into it more. As some of you will know from my recent iPad related reviews, I recently got an iPad and one of the first apps I downloaded was the Kindle. I have a few authors that I religiously follow but none of them had books released so when I kept seeing The Hunger Games book flash up, I thought I’d give it a try for £3.49. I was literally instantly hooked after about 4 pages, and knew I’d made the right decision. I read the book from start to finish in about 3 days, which for me is a rarity these days as I’m always so busy.
The thing that I loved most about this book is that the author Suzanne Collins has invented a whole new world. The concept although totally different in content, reminded me somewhat of Harry Potter. There are new words and ways of living, the names are all peculiar, and it is totally different to the world in which we live in today. When I first began reading the book I thought it was set in the past but actually although no specific reference is ever made, I believe it is set in the future after some kind of apocalyptic event. I may be wrong but this is my interpretation of it.
The book follows Katniss Everdeen who lives in the Seam, an area full of poverty. The area that was once known as South America is now home to Panem which houses 12 districts governed by The Capital. Every year, with a view to keeping the residents of the Districts aware of who is in control after the uprising known only as the ‘Dark Days’, The Capital send 12 boys and 12 girls into a live event known as The Hunger Games. The only rule is that only one can survive. The children are aged between 12 and 18 and the names are picked through a sadistic lottery system, with your name being entered once more on every birthday. The Districts are then eligible to bet on who they think will win, and the victor will win food and celebrations for a whole year for their District. The Hunger Games is a man-made arena brought to life by the sickening imaginations of the leaders of The Capital. It changes every year but the concept remains the same, give the contestants limited food, water and weapons and make them fight for survival. If they are unwilling to do that, they are forced through artificial forces such as a fire that pushes them all in one direction. The power of The Capital is not to be underestimated as they are able to instantly able to drain a lake or reduce the temperature to freezing. Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives. In the ruins of a place once known as North America
The Hunger Games are televised for all to see and it is mandatory for all residents to watch the coverage, disobedience is punishable by death. For the poverty stricken who must watch their own children (or children they will inevitably know) die it is harrowing viewing, but for the wealthy residents of the Capital it is entertainment. Katniss is used to having to survive, after the death of her beloved father, she has become the one that her mother and younger sister must rely on to feed them and keep them safe, so when her younger sisters name is pulled to enter The Hunger Games, Katniss makes a decision that will change her life forever.
This particular book (it is a trilogy) pretty much starts on the day of the Reaping, which is the day (celebrated as almost a public holiday to be celebrated) that the children are chosen from each district through a lottery system. We are given a little bit of background information on Katniss and the kind of life she leads, all of which is quite tragic and you instantly warm to Katniss.
The concept of the book is difficult to describe without making it sound extremely violent but it really isn’t the case, when I tried to explain to my mum about the book, she said it sounded awful, children killing one another, but it really isn’t written in a violent way, and is more about outsmarting one another and intelligence. Suzanne Collins strikes me as a particular intelligent lady. The way she has written this book is excellent, and the moments of sadness are balanced out by the quirky characters such as Katniss’ stylist Cinna, or drunk Haymitch. There are also moments of warmth as feisty Katniss gets close to Peeta, the bakers son. There is a good mix of characters, who Suzanne Collins explains in such a way that you can instantly picture them in your head.
This is the best book that I have read in a long time and I instantly bought the second and third books. I can only give this book 5 stars, there is no other rating justifiable for the book. The fact that it deals with poverty and war in such a compassionate way is commendable. Amazing.
The Times: ‘At its best the trilogy channels the political passion of 1984, the memorable violence of A Clockwork Orange, the imaginative ambience of The Chronicles of Narnia and the detailed inventiveness of Harry Potter. The specifics of the dystopian universe and the fabulous pacing of the complicated plot, give the books their strange, dark charisma.’
A New York Times Bestseller.
The first young adult author to sell over 1 million kindle copies.