First Published: October 31st, 2008 by
ISBN: 0439023521 (ISBN13:
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult.
Setting: Post-apocalyptic North America.
A nation called Panem.
Narrative: First person, present tense.
Reviewer’s rating: 5/5
There are books that you read, and then there are books that you live. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is definitely the latter. Written in the voice of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, the story doesn’t talk about something that happened in the past but something that’s happening right now, at this very moment. This narrative technique is able to keep the reader hooked to the very end of the book.
The story is set in an unknown period of time in Panem, a nation established in the post-apocalyptic North America. Panem consists of a magnificent city of the Capitol - the centre of power – and 12 poor Districts, each of which serves the needs of the people living in the Capitol. There were 13 such Districts but the last one was obliterated when the districts rebelled against the tyranny of the Capitol. The days of rebellion were called the Dark Days which came to an end with the victory of the Capitol and the beginning of The Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games, which are telecasted all over Panem like the present day reality shows, are the main source of entertainment for the people in Capitol. Only, it isn't a game. It is a death trap; a reminder to the Districts that rebellion against the Capitol will be the last thing you will ever think of. Every 8th day of the month of May, a boy and a girl (aged 12-18) of each District are selected by a draw (called The Reaping) to participate in the Hunger Games as “tributes”. Each of the 24 tributes is taken to an open arena to fight for his/her life. You have to survive the weather, the Game-makers' sadism, your competitors' wish to be alive and therefore kill you - because only the last one alive is the winner.
The story begins on this 8th day of May. Katniss, from the coal-mining District-12, enters the 74thHunger Games in place of her sister (Primrose) who gets ‘reaped’ in the draw. And there begins a heart wrenching story where she has to choose between survival and humanity, life and love. The Games are as vindictive as could be and the tributes are tested till the end of their tether. The topic of death has been touched upon so well by the author that the reader can not help but feel the pain of being in the arena along with Katniss. After enduring the entire emotional and physical ache, the book ends with Katniss defying the Capitol and winning the game, but not in the terms of President Snow. Will life be any better outside the arena? Will the horrors of the Hunger Games ever be forgotten? Questions like these will keep the reader on tenterhooks to read the sequels of The Hunger Games trilogy: Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
This book is so well written. Each word, each sentence is so well structured. It leaves an impact so deep that it stays long after the book has been read. The Hunger Games is a book for everyone. The realistic central characters target the teenagers caught between the battle of head and heart. The captivating plot-twists target the adults fighting their way in a world which is beyond their understanding. A simple reading of the book will focus on the life of Katniss, the choices she’s forced to make, and her victory against all odds. An even more serious reading of the book brings out the deep political and Marxist aspects in the book. The accumulation of money and power in the hands of the Capitol and their exploitation of the Districts re-assert Marx’s point that the “working” Districts have to find a way to outsmart the capitalist/materialist government in order to change their condition.
Being true to the genre, The Hunger Games will make you sad and scared. You’ll get afraid with every leaf that rustles in the arena where Katniss took shelter. You’ll be as itching to know about Prim and her safety as Katniss was when the action shifts to The Games. You’ll feel the same angst against the Capitol when Rue (another Tribute) dies. You’ll be as clueless about the future as Katniss is.
But the book will make sure you understand where you are and the effect you can have. The book is worth every experience and definitely worth a shot. So go ahead and grab the book!
Happy Reading and May the odds be ever in your favour!