Suzanne Collins series of books The Hunger Games have been out for a number of years now, and over time have become a popular series for young and adult readers alike. Although I was quite late in discovering these books, the knowledge that a film version was going to be released brought them to my, and lots of other readers, attention.
Book one in the series, entitled The Hunger Games, is a dystopian novel set in the future ruins of North America. At this point in time, the country is split up into 13 districts, the main central region known as The Capitol, and its 12 outlining districts. The story begins 74 years after a period of rebellion of the outer districts against the capitol. As punishment and as a reminder of what the 12 districts did, the capitol holds a competition each year known as the Hunger Games.
Each year prior to the Hunger Games, a reaping is held in each district where one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 is selected from a lottery to compete for their district in a fight to the death. The victor of the Hunger Games is crowned when the last person out of the 24 tributes selected, is left alive.
Over the last several years dystopian novels have become increasingly popular, with new books of this genre being released all of the time. This book however feels very unique compared to the newly released books. The Hunger Games has a definite feel of originality to the story, and has a level of complexity that keeps the reader hooked all the way throughout. In addition, the book is set at quite a fast pace keeping the story moving, though you never feel you’re being rushed or that you’ve missed anything.
The fast pace of the book is crucial to the telling of the story. By keeping things moving Suzanne Collins is able to go into a lot of detail, thoroughly describing the environment and goings on within the current scene, whilst only a short time actually passes within the story. Although some readers may be discouraged to find that scenes often take up more page space then in other books, in this instance it significantly benefits the story as Suzanne Collins uses this added time appropriately to develop the characters and their relationships, and provide readers with wider knowledge on key events.
The main characters, Katniss and Peeta, are pushed in to a dire situation where they have to kill others in order to save themselves. It provided an excellent opportunity to see how ‘human’ they are and distinguish them from other fictional characters by making them relatable. This is an aspect of writing I don’t come across very often; usually with this genre of story the author tends to drift into the world of fantasy, adding characters with mutations or powers and they therefore become less real. By keeping her characters basic, Suzanne Collins allows you to feel as if you know the characters on a very personal level and in turn make you support them and root for them to win.
Looking into the presentation of the characters shows off one of the best features of this book and that is its realism. With the level of detail and the fundamental human characteristics displayed by each character, readers will feel as though this is a real account of someone’s life and be able get a sense that these events occurring in the story could actually take place. By keeping the plot as something possible and realistic, it further engages the reader and draws them in deeper.
When it comes to negatives for this book there are very few I can find. My only real criticism would be that I didn’t quite understand the reasoning behind Gale and Peeta’s rivalry in gaining the affections of the heroine Katniss. Although readers will discover there is meaning to this in the books following, looking just at this first book it does add some confusion.
It’s easy to see why this book has captured the minds of so many readers. For anyone looking to start delving into the world of dystopian novels or to get back into reading in general, this is a great place to start and will leave you wanting more. Luckily there are two subsequent books to keep you going.