Book Review for the Hunger Games

Book review for the Hunger Games

The setting
Set in a somewhat post apocalyptic future, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins tells the story of the 74th Hunger Games.  The world now revolves around one central city surrounded by 12 districts.  Together they make up the nation of Panem.  Each district is separated from the other and any movement or trade between them is strictly controlled by the Capitol officials.  Life in Panem is luxury, all goods and most services are taken care of by the districts and most citizens are more concerned about the latest fashions than the welfare of those living in the districts.  In comparison the districts grow poorer the further they are from the Capitol and in district 12 where our heroine Katniss Everdeen lives food is mostly acquired illegally from outside the electrified fences or if this cannot be found the residents simply go without.  

The Hunger GamesBook Review for the Hunger Games(103755)Many years ago the districts rose up against the Capitol, only to be defeated and put back in their places as poor helpless slave like communities.  To remind the people of the districts who is in charge of Panem the Capitol holds an annual Hunger Games.  This exciting event (for those living in the Capitol) requires that each district randomly selects one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 via a lottery.  The resulting 24 children are then groomed and trained for an eventual battle to the death in a giant arena.  The whole of Panem watches on in a kind of sick reality television type of entertainment. The games can last many days and the eventual winner is crowned the ‘Victor’ of that year's Hunger Games and is showered with glory, living in luxury for the rest of their lives.  As a Victor they also must act as mentor for the current Tributes, guiding them through their training and providing tools and resources for them whilst battling in the arena.  For the Tributes of district 12 there is only one living Victor, Haymitch Abernathy, a drunk from the 50th Hunger Games.  There is little hope for district 12 and they never last long in the arena.

The Plot
The story begins on the morning of the 74th Hunger Games lottery during which Primrose Everdeen, Katniss’ 12 year old sister is selected as the girl for district 12.  Katniss steps in for her sister, volunteering as Tribute.  She and the 23 other children travel to the Capitol where they are trained and groomed for the games.  There is much fanfare with TV interviews and betting on who will be the eventual Victor.  Much of the book focuses on the uneasy relationship between Katniss and her boy counterpart from district 12 Peeta Mellark who she must kill to win the games and ultimately survive herself. I will leave the rest of the story to you.  

Major Themes
Suzzane Collins came up with the idea for this book after switching her television between footage of war and a reality TV show.  It is a fascinating concept and one the reader may even find challenging when taken in comparison with their own lives.  The aspect of the story which struck me the most was the sickening contrast between those living in the Capitol and those stuck out in the districts.  One has a tendency to feel anger and disgust towards the rich Capitol folks who seem too preoccupied with the latest hair styles and gossiping about who wore what to the most recent party that they either ignore or choose not to see the plight of those in the outer districts.  It is through the eyes of Katniss and Peeta that we truly understand the crazyness of their lives.  Those in district 12 spend their days scrounging and hunting for just enough food to survive whilst those in the Capitol make themselves sick just so they can eat a little more.  It is when you begin to realise the similarity between this make-believe world and reality that the reader begins to realise they are in many ways just like those living in the Capitol.  For this reason The Hunger Games is a challenging novel if one chooses to allow Collins message to get across.

Another important theme in this book is that of choice and self-sacrifice.  The Tributes are faced with no option but to kill one another, the Capitol make sure of this, yet as the story will show, they do still have a choice.  They still have the ability to show remorse and there is an interesting dynamic working between them throughout the games.  There is a sense that although they have resigned to the fact that they must kill or be killed there is still an underlying hope that something could save them.

My Recommendation
In writing this brief book review of the Hunger Games it occurs to me that there is more than just an entertaining story to be had.  Given that this novel is targeted to a teenage audience its deeper meanings may have a deeper impact.  It is not for the faint of heart with much blood and gore but I think Collins is trying to make the reader understand that although this is just fiction it is in some ways also reality.  I highly recommend this book as well as the second and third books, Catching Fire and Mocking Jay.  It is indeed a page turner which will leave you thinking about its many themes but also wanting for more. I highly recomend you get hold of a copy of the Hunger Games.