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Book Review – The Hunger Games

May 12, 2010

    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Since finishing my spring classes about a week ago, I have caught up on sleep, laundry and a long list of dvr’d shows.  I still have yet to catch up on my Masterpiece Theatre shows, including The Diary of Anne Frank, but I’m hoping to watch that soon (and re-read the book, too!).  I have also been able to resume some of the pleasure reading I set out to read back in February.  The first of hopefully several books I read during this break was The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.

There has been quite a buzz about this book.  I first heard about it when one of my classmates did a booktalk on it last summer in IST612.  I also heard about it on LM_Net.  My 12 year old son read it during the current school year, and loved it so much he immediately turned around and read the sequel.  I started my high school fieldwork two weeks ago, and my supervising librarian not only recommended the book, she went right to the shelf, and checked it out to my account.  Now there was no excuse for not reading the book. 

I carried it in my bag on substitute teaching jobs for the past two weeks, and didn’t manage to even crack it open.  I started reading this past Sunday, giving some uninterrupted reading time as a Mother’s Day gift to myself.  Today is Tuesday, and I finished the book today, reading it almost non-stop whenever I was able to sit down. 

The book drew me in from the very first page, and I was riveted by the end of the first chapter.  The story moves along at a good pace, but never seems frantic or rushed.  The characters are multi-dimensional, and evolve throughout the story.  Even though certain events in the book portray less likeable character traits in both the protagonists, I never really felt a sense of dislike for either of them. 

The games are held in the Capitol city in a country called Panem, as a form of punishment for citizen rebellions that took place years earlier.  Katniss Everdeen hails from District 12, and we meet her on Reaping Day, an official holiday with a grim name and even grimmer purpose.  The reaping consists of selecting a boy and girl tribute from each of Panem’s twelve districts to participate in the Hunger Games.  The goal of the games:  participants will fight to the death, with the last standing tribute declared the winner.  We follow along as Katniss volunteers as a tribute, and through the battles she will fight.  Some of these battles are with fellow tributes, some are man-made terrors, and some are battles with herself.

As I went through these battles alongside Katniss,  I felt a certain sense of discomfort:  How would I have acted in the same situation?  How would I fare in the games?  How much do I have in common with the inhabitants of the Capitol City?  Could this scary world Collins creates ever come to be?  These questions are never really answered.  The end of the book mirrors this uncertainty – although one one level, the conflict in the book is resolved, on another level it is just beginning. 

Even though descriptions of the book don’t really do it justice, I still highly recommend this title.  As soon as I return some overdue books and pay off my fines  Tommorow I will be requesting the sequel to this book, Catching Fire.  After that, my son and I will be impatiently waiting for the final book of the trilogy to come out this summer.

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