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Will leave you hungry for more
The Hunger Games Classic - Suzanne Collins
Member Name: deedee610
The Hunger Games Classic - Suzanne Collins
Advantages: gripping; well written; believable characters
PRICE: £7.99 (but currently £3.99 on Amazon)
LENGTH: 464 pages
OVERVIEW: Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old girl, lives in a fictional dystopian country called Panem which is made up of the Capitol and 12 outlying districts - hers being District 12. Each year, two young people (a boy and a girl), under the age of 18, are 'reaped' from each of the 12 districts. Those 24 contestants then go on to take part in the televised Hunger Games - a sort of Big Brother with a twist; in that only one of these tributes will come out alive ... The games, ostensibly, are a reminder by the Capitol about the repercussions of rebellions and uprisings - one of which took place 75 years earlier. In reality, though, they provide excitement and entertainment for those who live in the Capitol - flamboyant individuals who have every luxury they crave, whilst those in the districts struggle to survive.
MY VIEW: I'd been meaning to read The Hunger Games for a while, so when the film came out I decided I'd better get to it, before someone gave away the plot.
I absolutely loved this book from the start (and I'll tell you now, I went on to devour the next two books in the series straight after, blazing through all of them in under two weeks).
Suzanne Collins has not only created a believable fictional world, she's created characters you grow to love and care about. Katniss is a wonderful creation - bold, tough, self-sufficient, compassionate but also flawed. Forced to care for her mother and younger sister, Prim, since her father was killed in a mining accident, Katniss illegally roamed the meadows outside District 12, armed with a crossbow, hunting for food. Together with her best friend Gale, they put food on the plates of their hungry families and trade in the Hob (a black-market establishment). Early on, we get a sense of Katniss as not only a survivor but also as someone who is willing to flout authority for a greater cause. When her 12 year old sister Prim is 'reaped' for that year's Hunger Games, Katniss instantly volunteers on her behalf - setting in motion a chain of events that will not only dramatically alter her own life, but those around her - and, ultimately, the fate of Panem itself.
Along with Katniss, Peeta (the son of District 12's baker) is also reaped as the male tribute. Again, Peeta is a multi-dimensional character - articulate, likable and utterly in love with Katniss. You're drawn into their complex relationship and find yourself rooting for both - even though you know, in the end, only one person can leave the Hunger Games alive. The only help they have is Haymitch their mentor, District 12's sole previous winner who triumphed in the games 25 years earlier. It's his role each year to bring one of District 12's tributes home alive - but he never does. Again, Collins has created a flawed yet lovable character in Haymitch. He's a drunk (but that's understandable) yet, during the course of his relationship with Katniss and Peeta, we come to see a caring side. Then, later, the reader twigs that he's more savvy than they first supposed.
Collins creates such a strong sense of place - along with a sense of drama - it's not difficult to see why this novel was turned into a film. Although we know it must be set in the future, due to the hardships the Districts endure, much of the book feels like it's actually set in the past. However, this is beautifully complemented by the grandeur and modernity of the Capitol - where plastic surgery has clearly been taken to extremes, food materialises at the touch of a button, and the Game Makers are able to create a complex and deadly outdoor 'arena' in which the contestants fight to the death.
CONCLUSION: For me, this novel ticked every box - it was well written, well paced, the characters were believable and the plot fantastic. Yes it's a YA novel - however, it was so well described (and so exciting to read) that it didn't really feel as if it was aimed at any specific target market. I've not often used the term 'rollicking good read' but I think it probably applies to The Hunger Games. And, I'll add, the series only gets better. The second novel, Catching Fire, didn't lag in the way many 'sandwich' books in a trilogy can - and the final book, Mockingjay, was equally compelling. If you want to lose yourself for a while, then I'd highly recommend this series. Having finished them all a few days ago, I keep forgetting they're over and feel a surge of disappointment when I remember Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch and Gale are now back on the bookshelf!
Summary: An all-round great read
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