Reading Level: Ages 13 and up
Summary: Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?
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.
My Review: This was a very interesting read for many reasons. One: It was outside my usual genre and truthfully my comforts zone. Two: The whole time I was reading it, I wasn't sure if I found it truly compelling and thought provoking. I've read many reviews about it, some stating it to be the best book ever, others saying it was terrible and very gruesome. I wasn't going to read it, but finally saw it at my library and decided to give it a try if only to develop my own opinion of it.
With vivid description and sparse dialogue Suzanne Collins takes you through Katniss Everdeen's experience through the dreaded Hunger Games. I've heard this book described as awesome. I couldn't disagree more. There is nothing awesome about children being forced to kill each other. Unfortunately I can't think of a more appropriate word to describe it. The book left me with a sick stomach, not from content (although the killings, particularly near the end we're quite horrifying) but from total lack of closure and hope as well as that awful added note "End of Book One". The hope I can forgive seeing as it's the first book. I was going to read book two, until I found it threw Katniss right back into the Hunger Games. Let me tell you something: this book is exhausting, strangely enough physically as well as emotionally. By the end I felt like I, personally had been pushed through the Hunger Games (minus having to take anyone's life) and there was no way I was going back. You may not believe me but really it was. Also the disappointment that the 2nd book didn't have Katniss getting together an awesome army of friends to combat the capital was overwhelming.
Katniss is an okay character. I admired her for stepping up to save her sister, and for staying away from killing her fellow Hunger Game mates for as long as possible. There was some emotion in her particularly during a very tragic death scene, but even though I'm in her head the whole time, at the end of the book I still felt like I didn't know her. It also felt that the little rebelling she did do, was accidental, and with no real meaning behind it other than saving herself. I have no opinion of Gale, he seems like a nice guy, he likes Katniss, but he was only in the beginning for a little bit. Peeta, well I liked him but only because he was one: in it more, and two: reminded me of a person I am quite fond of. My favorite character was definitely Haymitch, Katniss and Peetas' trainer. His character development, from drunkard slob, to tough trainer was nicely written as well as his relationship with Katniss, one of outward friction, and eventual inner respect. I also liked little Rue, Katniss's adopted sister in the games. She added a vulnerability to Katniss that we might of missed out on. At the end we get a little peek at President Snow, the evil ruler of the Capitol and all of Panem. He's the sick mind behind the Hunger Games and doubtless we get to know more about him in the other two books. Too bad I am completely devoid of any interest in whatever battle will unfurl.
Content: Violence. Lots of it. Involving kids and young teens.
Rating: 2 and a half stars out of 5
Recommend: If you like this sort of thing...