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Book Recommendation: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I heard about The Hunger Games long before I decided to read the series. It was like when Twilight first came out. I would hear a person or two talk about it on a book forum or Facebook before forgetting they mentioned it. Then one day I was wandering around Borders and saw the minimally designed cover of the book and thought that I should at least read the back and get a general view of what it was about.
The ruins of North America? Children fighting to the death on live tv? A female as a main character? It was like someone had taken my dream novel and turned it into, well, a real novel! While I'd heard that it was like the movie Battle Royale I figured I'd get it anyway because it sounded amazing. Within twenty four hours I was at Target picking up the next two books in the series, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I hadn't finished the first, but I knew that I would be yearning for the other two books in the trilogy once I had.
What Caught My Attention
If you enjoy dystopia based novels, then The Hunger Games is the book for you. Even though it's based on Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen year old girl in the country of Panem, grown ups can enjoy the series too. It's more than a young adult series, especially since there's detailed action and violent scenes. I liked it for the following reasons:
Maybe it was the idea of children fighting to the death on live tv that really pulled me in, but I enjoyed that it wasn't a male-focused novel. I couldn't associate with Katniss' plight of having to hunt illegally to feed my family, but I loved how strong she was. Few novels that I had enjoyed over the years featured a plausible female lead. But there was Katniss Everdeen, volunteering to take her little sister's place in a competition that could very well lead to her death. It made me wonder if I would do the same in her place. What a show of familial love.
There was also the text of the novel in general. Suzanne Collins had a gift for giving just the right amount of gory details while not making it too over-the-top. For one who has a vivid imagination you can almost feel the flames licking your back as Katniss runs for her life away from a Gamemaker creation. I've always enjoyed violence in novels - that's why I read The Godfather multiple times a year - but it was perfectly balanced with a bit of romance that I didn't even see coming.
In the beginning you think that Katniss and Gale might have something going on, something we'll find out later in the novel, but Collins makes a good show of Peeta's feelings for our heroine. Peeta Mellark, who once helped Katniss on her darkest of days, uses a declaration of love during the live interviews to save her life. Throughout the novel you see Katniss battling her feelings and the terrifying realization that she might just have to kill the boy with the bread. The inner turmoil feels so real when she questions her romance with Peeta and the kisses that they share.
Spoiler Alert: The Other Books
Suzanne Collins doesn't hesitate to leave a cliffhanger after the games are finished. Katniss and Peeta are on the train after having made it home alive when you realize that it isn't over. There's two more books and we've learned that President Snow is more of an enemy than one could have predicted in the beginning. Suddenly the end of the games doesn't signify the end of the fight, it signals the beginning of a new one. Survival no longer mean keeping each other alive against the other districts, it's a fight between rebellious Katniss Everdeen and the Capitol.
Catching Fire details the next Hunger Games with an unexpected twist. Without giving away too much, it leads into Mockingjay perfectly. From the beginning we've heard about the uprising of the districts against the Capitol so many years ago, but Mockingjay is their very own World War II. By the end of the series I was left bawling and wishing Collins had written more or even published other books about previous Hunger Games. Their world isn't so different from what ours might become if we systematically destruct and / or kill one another. That is, in fact, what happens in the novel. I've never been much of a fan of dystopia books, but The Hunger Games has blazed a new trail for me in this genre.