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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
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Dec 29, 11

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Set in a post-apocalyptic future North America, this book is about one girl’s fight to stay alive. 'The Hunger Games' is a yearly tournament in which the districts that make up the civilization known as Panem, have to send in representatives to compete to the death until one survives. Two children, a girl and a boy, from each district are sent to this tournament, where they are given minimal training and then thrown into a controlled arena surrounded by cameras for the whole country to see. It’s reality tv on steroids. But unlike our reality tv, they aren’t competing for personal gain. These kids have no choice, and the prize is a unusually generous amount of food for that District. You see, the districts are all under control by the Capitol, which rations (and withholds) food and resources to maintain control. The Hunger Games is a reminder to the districts that they are in power and must honor that power. The children who are chosen to compete are aptly called Tributes and it’s supposed to be a honor to fight in the games, but as you can imagine it’s terrifying and something to be mourned if you get chosen.

This book focuses on one Tribute in particular, Katniss, from district 12 and her journey through the tournament. Of course this isn’t just about Katniss. We get to know the other district 12 Tribute, Peeta, and their mentor who survived a previous Hunger Game, as well as a host of other characters who either help prepare Katniss for the competition or who are competing with her. I won't say much more than that because what’s so awesome about this book is that you really don’t see what’s coming. I had no idea what to expect going into it, half way through it I had no idea how it was going to end, and even at the end, I had no idea what could possibly be next, but I really really want to know. So thank goodness I started reading this after the trilogy was completed because there are two more books.

I really love the protagonist, Katniss, the most. She’s a strong, smart, and tough girl, but she’s emotionally retarded. We see this most in her budding relationship with her fellow Tribute, Peeta. That relationship in particular was a surprise for me as a reader because I thought this was just going to be about fighting, but there’s romance, or at least a strong potential for romance. The writing style is very simplistic, but deceptively so. There are layers here and emotional complexity with subtle social commentary or rather observations that ring true to our own society and human nature in general. The narrative never comes across as preachy though. It’s written in first person, and you really do feel like you’re listening to Katniss’ thoughts. There’s also a lot of ambiguity that will leave you with mixed emotions - my favorite type of story. For those who may be put off by the premise and prospect of children killing children, I won’t lie, it’s brutal at times, but there are also moments of inspiring human kindness and sentimentality that will give you hope.
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