The Hunger Games
Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
The country of Panem, a place that used to be known as North America, is all that remains after droughts, storms and flooding seas swallowed the land. The country banded together and Panem was built; the Capitol, at it's very centre and thirteen Districts surrounding it. But an uprising left District 13 obliterated and the other twelve at the mercy of the Capitol. The Treaty of Treason was created to keep the peace and The Hunger Games began. Every year each District is required to offer up one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 and 18 as tribute, to fight in the Hunger Games. Only one can win, it is a game of kill or be killed. Katniss Everdeen knows the odds are not in her favour, her name has been placed in twenty times this year, but she never expects her sisters name to be chosen. Katniss is unwilling to let her twelve year old sister to go and volunteers to take her place as tribute. She's not expecting to have to compete with Peeta Mellark, a boy who once showed her an act of kindness that saved her life. She leaves her family behind, with the knowledge that she will probably never return and the hope that her best friend Gale will watch over her family for her.
This is a book that I find very hard to review. Not only is it one of my favourites, it is now so well known that I feel everything that can be said about it, has been said. But as I have just reread it for the movie, I really want to put my thoughts down about the book. But also some thoughts about the movie adaptation as well.
One thing I love about this book is Katniss, she is such a strong lead character. She isn't the perfect, happy lead; she's flawed, moody and damaged. She's struggled through life in District 12, through her father's death, her mothers emotional abandonment, starvation and the responsibility of looking after her sister. All of these things have left their mark and it's clear in the way Katniss talks, acts and thinks. I like that about her, that she's a hard person to get close to but that she is fiercely loyal to the people she loves.
The love triangle, I think it's something that gets overused in lots of series now, but The Hunger Games is honestly the first time I had ever come across it in a book series. This is one of the few books where the love triangle doesn't bother me and I think it's because you can understand why she would choose Gale or Peeta. Gale knows everything about her life before the Games, how much she has struggled since her father's death, her love of Prim and all the reasons she can't forgive her mother. But Peeta, he understands her life after them; he knows how it feels to kill another human being, to watch as people you care about die in front of you. Peeta can understand everything the Games will turn Katniss into. I think I enjoyed the triangle so much in this because I wouldn't have been upset whoever she chose, yes I had my preference, but I would have understand why she chose them.
This book gives us such an abundance of amazing secondary characters, that it's actually really hard to know where to begin. Haymitch and Effie, the drunk and the one who seemed completely oblivious to everyone else's feelings or plights, but who really did care for Katniss in their own ways. Cinna, oh where do I begin with Cinna? I love him. He did all he could, everything that was in his power as a stylist, to ensure Katniss the best chance of survival in the Games. The other tributes also come into their own during the Games, once we are down to a smaller group.
Rue completely stole my heart in this book and I wish more of her story could have been added into the movies. The moment where Katniss receives bread was such a touching moment in the book, it really choked me up, but in the movie it wouldn't have made as much sense, or had such an impact. Thresh was another tribute that I fell in love with in this book, I kind of rooted for him as well! The tough thing about reading a book about a fight to the death between twenty-four people is that you are going to see a lot of characters you like die.
Something that the book did for me that the movie didn't, was show just how brutal and tough the Games are. The movie, which was much more subtle because it needed to keep a certain age rating, wasn't able to put across how harsh the games were; at least in my opinion. In the movie, the Games feel like they only take place over a matter of days whereas in the books it takes weeks. During this time, Katniss faces starvation, dehydration to the point where she is on the brink of death; something I never felt in the movie. I loved the adaptation, it was so great in so many ways but it did fall short on certain things. One thing I believe they got spot on is Jennifer Lawrence, I can't actually imagine anyone else playing her! She played her so well and really showed Katniss's surly, moody, damaged side really well and then was able to show her softer, more caring side that had me in tears many times.
This book has fast-past action, emotional scenes, a tough female lead and strong, unique secondary characters that really bring the book to life. I love this book, love this series and can only really gush over them for so long. I would honestly recommend to anyone, as I feel that everyone should get to enjoy this amazing book.
I recently gifted my cousin the series for her birthday, not sure whether she would enjoy them or not - she had just turned eleven and had only really read young junior fiction like Jacqueline Wilson and Karen McCombie. But honestly, when she read the first book and I asked her what she thought; she honestly replied: "I didn't realise books could be this good." That basically sums up the Hunger Games.