Sunday, December 12, 2010
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Set somewhere in the future The Hunger Games is an annual event where 24 teenagers are selected through a lottery across the 12 districts of Panem (what is left of the United States in this future world) and pitched to fight against each other in a, to the death, winner take all, reality TV program.
Katniss and Peeta are the contenders from district twelve. The narrative is told in the first person from Katniss's perspective. She is sixteen and volunteers for the Hunger Games to save her younger sister Primrose from having to take part. Katniss has been providing food for her family by hunting, since she was eleven. after her father was killed in a mining accident.
The Hunger Games can be enjoyed on many levels, and all of them are pitched perfectly. This is a story that I imagine would appeal to young and adult readers alike. Everyone has reviewed this book, so I don't feel the need to carry on with a lengthy review here. I am the one who has been slow to this party. So let me just add to the chorus that I was amazed and captivated by The Hunger Games. I couldn't put it down. It is well written, dramatic and moving. I can't recommend it highly enough. And feel certain that I will be looking more closely at YA fiction in the future. This is one of the most enjoyable reads of the year for me.
As a brief postscript, the first thing that came to mind when I was reading The Hunger Games was a short story by US writer Shirley Jackson called The Lottery. For those of you who love The Hunger Games and are unfamiliar with this short story, originally published in The New Yorker in 1948, I encourage you to check it out. I don't know if the short story was any sort of inspiration for Collins. The Lottery by Jackson captures some of the same chilling themes very well.