In a distant future, after war has destroyed the world as we know it today, what was formerly known as North America is now Panem. Panem is made up of 12 districts ruled under a totalitarian authority. Katniss Everdeen is our heroine, who lives with her mother and younger sister in the rustic District 12. In this future world, the authority holds what are known as the Hunger Games each year, where two youths from each district are picked at random to compete to the death. Sounds brutal, but this is how the government reminds the population that they still have control.
Author Suzanne Collins has created a delightful futuristic world with Panem. We have several diverse districts; some having little to no technology, while others are overwhelmed with sophistication and wacky clothes to match. When Katniss ends up being a player in the games, her journey in preparation for the games is one full of colorful characters, bizarre foods, and lots of unique sight seeing. While some areas described give us the notion that the future world is a desolate and miserable wasteland, those Katniss visits throughout the games show us that we’ve also made quite a few interesting advancements to say the least.
The book really kicks into high gear when the games begin. There is not a dull or boring moment once things get going. At the beginning of the book I found myself not liking Katniss; I felt she was, well, a bit of a bitch for lack of a better term. But as the games progress, they cause a bit of self-discovery for her and as the reader we really begin to cheer for her. The other characters we meet are also likable and the enemies in the games are as gruesome as you can imagine.
Collins’ writing style is just the way I like it: short and to the point while also adding that level of sophistication that tells you you’re not reading a kid’s book, but also doesn’t show off like a thesaurus was constantly on stand-by. The detail given allows us to visualize first hand the manufactured and controlled battlegrounds during the games and gives us perfect images of devices and objects that have not yet come to existence.
The book is geared towards younger readers, but older readers should not let this deter them from picking it up. In fact, it’s tough to tell what age is actually appropriate for this book. With the entire concept of the book being based around violence, it’s definitely a young adult read, but the themes are socially relevant and would appeal to many adults as well. If you’re looking for something with high action, political turmoil, a touch of sci-fi, and even a slight romance angle, The Hunger Games will not disappoint.
The book is the first of a trilogy which is also currently being developed as a film series at the time of this review. It will certainly be interesting to see how the films play out, as with the many non-existent items and all. The second and third books have since been released, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, which have been getting good reviews as well. With the gaining popularity and upcoming films, it will not surprise me that more will be heard about the series, and Collins will be much deserving of her accolades for crafting such an exciting modern adventure.
Official site (Scholastic) | Author’s site