The Hunger Games was a surprisingly excellent book. It’s also the first book in perhaps ever that made me want to cry by page 40.
In a dystopian formerly-United States known as Panem, the central Capital holds total dominion over its twelve ‘districts.’ The Capital reminds its territories of its ultimate authority by mandating an annual competition – the Hunger Games, a deadly survivalist fight between youth randomly drawn from each district, televised for the country to see. This year, our story’s protagonist, Katniss Everdine, volunteers to take her young sister’s place in the games. What follows is a well-written, “violently simple” (in Stephen King’s words) story of survival told from the first person point-of-view of Katniss.
The Hunger Games is Young Adult, I guess, though its hard to consider something of such quality (and violence!) for a young audience. I mean, yeah, the writing is easily grasped and the font large, but that simplicity belies the powerful story the book weaves. I don’t understand it, but I almost cried a half dozen times reading the book; Suzanne Collins does a remarkable job fleshing out and making me care about characters I know are doomed to die.
At the heart of the matter is Collins’ characterization of Katniss. Katniss is a complicated character, alternating between moments of inexplicable compassion and ruthless pragmatism. At least, Katniss wants to believe she behaves in the latter way. It’s hard to get a gauge on just what sort of person Katniss is, and the reader gets the sense that Katniss herself doesn’t even know. All in all, an interesting protagonist for a good book.
If you want a good quick read and aren’t randomly biased against YA books, pick up a copy of The Hunger Games. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Man, once you read the book, this here piece is really funny.