Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book #6

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Unabridged audio.

I decided to step boldly into 2008 and read the mega-popular YA Hunger Games series. I had confidence that it would be strong because this would not be my first contact with Suzanne Collins' writing. My daughter and I had previously read her "Gregor the Overlander" series, a critically-acclaimed series about a boy's adventures in a magical world under New York City.

By the time I picked up this first book in the Hunger Games series, the broad outlines of the story were already well known to me, although I was unfamiliar with the details. And I haven't seen the movie, although I will shortly, now that I have read the book.
In the near future, the United States has become a society of a dozen separate districts, all extremely poor. The land is run with an iron fist by the despotic rulers in the Capitol. Every year, the Capitol put on a "bread and circuses" show called the Hunger Games, pitting a pair of teenagers from each district against each other in a fight to death. The winner's district receives more than their regular allotment of food as a prize, and the winner's family is financially set for life. Viewing the games on television is mandatory for all citizens.
Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, a baker's son, are selected to represent district 12. Katniss had a positive experience with Peeta when she was younger, and feels a loyalty to him. He admits to having had a long-standing crush on her, although this declaration may have been a strategy to gain support from viewers of the Games, support which can bring benefits during the game. Katniss had to balance her need to win the game, while battling the churning emotions she feels for Peeta.
The story is told entirely from Katniss' point-of-view, bringing an immediacy to the action. One of the limitations of this type of storytelling is that it can be limiting, but Collins is still able to tell a tale of epic scope. Katniss has to then carry the entire emotional bulk of the story, and putting us "inside her head" can feel repetitive. But that minor point aside, the book moves at a great pace, and this interesting story is told very well.

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