Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Hunger Games : #1 The Hunger Games

Another YA book triology that is making the rounds as an international best seller, The Hunger games triology.The Hunger games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay….these are the three books that make the series. As usual i found out about this book from my new best friend in a YA books disscusion forum and it definitely proved to be worth it. 
This is how the summary on the back cover of the first book of the series goes like : 

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.  Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love. 

With these blurbs from famous authors and critics, the book definitely enjoys the much appreciated attention of the world - “A violent, jarring, speed-rap of a novel that generates nearly constant suspense…..I couldn’t stop reading” - Stephen king; “I was so obsessed with this book….The hunger games is amazing” - Stephenie Meyer; “Brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced” - John Green (the new york times book review).
Lets take things a little bit slow shall we, When the book opens, North America as we know it has been destroyed and is now divided into 12 districts (originally 13 but the last is now annihilated completely for treason), ruled by an oppressive government located at the Capitol. Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl from District 12, takes her younger sister’s place as one of 24 “tributes” selected every year to participate in the Hunger Games at the Capitol. The Games pit children from ages 12 to 18 against each other in a fight to the death in a giant, treacherous arena. Everything is televised and highly publicized all over the country. Katniss must not only survive the Games, but deal with a romance between her and another tribute from District 12, all the while deciding if she is willing to kill strangers her own age as a pawn of an oppressive government.
Now normally i don’t pick up books with birds on them or any animals but since my last venturing into the Guardians of Ga’hoole series i can safely conclude that most of the time cover doesn’t really matter and “Viola”…..i’m truly speechless, Suzanne Collins narrative here has an immediacy to it that, when combined with the very dramatic life-or-death plot, is incredibly compelling. It’s entertaining, and incredibly disturbing all at once.
The Games provided a backdrop to one of the most enthralling plots I have ever read. Katniss constantly battles thirst, fire, hunger, wild animals, injuries, and other teenagers for survival. She makes and loses friends, and I became so attached to her and her fellow tribute from District 12 that even if i had to put the book down one night before going to bed the story was still revolving around my head.  While the plot is mainly what drives this book, the creativity of this future world and the concept of the Games also impressed me. In addition, the characters are all very strong and exhibit character development throughout the book.
Parents, guardians beware! The storyline is brutal. Even though the writing is geared for young adults, the main characters are teenagers, there’s very little physical romance, and the actual violence would probably count as PG-13 nowadays… it’s probably one of the most terrifying books I’ve read in a very long time!For example, there is a scene where one young tribute is slowly eaten alive by wolf-like creatures all night long, and Katniss has to finally throw a weapon at him to end his misery. I found this a little too disturbing when I considered the age of the character. The intensity of the action was something one would find in a more mature book, but the age of the characters and the simplicity of the prose were aimed at a much younger audience. 
The one point that seemed disturbing is the ginormous status difference between the people of the Capitol and the districts. While the capitols portray the perfect futuristic scenario the districts are the perfect image of slavery and it is definitely not clear as to the era the plotline is set.
It occurs to me that there has never been a quintessential futuristic gladiator book for kids. That is undoubtedly the roughest term you can give this book. It’s good. And it’s so ridiculous that a work of science fiction like this could even be so good. You think of futuristic arena tales and your mind instantly sinks to the lowest common denominator. What Collins has done here is set up a series that will sink its teeth into readers.
I like this book because I can use it to teach utopia v dystopia, heroic characteristics, setting, imagery, and symbolism. Though the romance does play a significant role in plot development, it’s not the be all end all of the story. If you get past the pre-game scenario the book is definitely exciting, riveting, and at times scary. The characters are well-written, even the minor ones. I am impressed with Ms. Collins’ writing abilities and am still thinking about this book although I put it down hours ago and already begun reading the next book of the series CATCHING FIRE.
Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopia, sci-fi

Publisher Scholastic

Rate:              5/5 (It was amazing, I recommend it)


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