This week I read the first two books of The Hunger Games trilogy. The Hunger Games is first. The story is about a young girl, Katniss Everdeen who is living in a poor district of a country called Panem. There are 12 districts in Panem - all controlled by the Capitol. No one leaves their district. Each is controlled by representatives from the capitol, guarded by fences and kept in check through fear and starvation. Once a year each of the 12 districts are required to send two children (tributes), a boy and a girl to the Hunger Games where they will engage in a vicious and bloody fight to the death. Katniss’s story begins on the day of the reaping when her little sister, Prim, is picked as a tribute.
I am really surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Lately, I have been into supernatural fiction almost exclusively so this came as a pleasant surprise. I think Suzanne Collins did a wonderful job creating the backdrop for this story without spending an undue amount of time with detailed descriptions of how the world came to be in such a state. Rather, Collins tells the story through characters, which I find to be much more personal and much less tedious. Often I am annoyed with authors who put so much effort into building the world around their characters that I lose interest. Collins had no such problem with The Hunger Games. The world was devastatingly real, the characters well rounded and the action fierce. I found myself thinking about what would happen next long after I put the book down for the night.
The heroine of the story, Katniss, was frustratingly true to herself. I kept feeling angry at her for being so stupid sometimes and at other times I was impressed with her knowledge and ability to figure out clues, and ways to survive. I would get so angry when she didn’t pick up on social cues or when she couldn’t see that her counterpart, Peeta Mellark, was falling in love with her. However, that is just who she is. I think Collins did a great job creating a complicated female character. One who knows how to take care of herself, but sometimes fails to see herself clearly. Most importantly Collins steered clear of the oh-so-dramatic, sighs, mutters, and longing that seem to be present in much of today’s teen fiction. It wasn’t gross or over played. It wasn’t stupid or juvenile. It didn’t remind me that I was a grown up reading a book for a younger generation. It did, however, remind me why I love to read. Thanks!