Friday, January 1, 2010

Hunger Games

In a time after the collapse of the United States the capitol city of a nation called Panem rules over 12 districts with a campaign of fear.  The citizens of the capitol enjoy lavish parties and extreme fashions while children in the outer districts struggle just to fill their bellies.  The districts tried to rebel once, and the result was the total destruction of district thirteen and the creation of the Hunger Games.  To remind the districts of just how helpless they are the capitol hosts its own extreme reality TV show each year. The participants are 24 children--a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district.  The location changes annually and can range from a barren desert to a jungle full of vicious genetically altered predators.  The goal: to be the last child left alive. 

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" better than a good dystopian novel so I started this one Christmas morning.  It was so engrossing that I even ended up reading it on the car ride to my cousins' house--something I usually don't do.  On the way back home it was too dark to read in the car but I still spent the entire ride in its world going through all the possible outcomes.  The premise is not entirely original (why is it that all dystopian worlds call their cities 'districts'?) but the telling was very well done.  At times I felt that it might have been tending a bit too much towards the action side of the story and not enough towards the philosophical and political implications, but I think this was a bit unfair of me considering its intended audience.  I also enjoyed the fact that it didn't talk down to the reader or pull any punches.  I've criticized adult novels for being too afraid to kill off children before, but apparently young adult novels have no problem with it!  Overall I'd say this book provides readers plenty to consider without sacrificing pace and even adding a nice romantic plot to keep the teen girls squeaming and eager to read more (if this sounds condescending it's not intended as such because I more or less include myself in that group).  I think it could easily be enjoyed by teens and adults and would recommend it to both groups.

I took this from my review of the sequel because I realized for it to be effective I should probably post it here: "Once again I'd recommend this book, but with the caveat that I'd wait to read them all until the third book comes out, then I'd make sure to buy or check out all three at once.  They read pretty quickly anyway so I think an adult could probably read all three in a weekend day.  I wish I had waited."
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins ISBN: 0-439-02348-3

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