Holy Smokes! I haven’t read a book straight through with such fervor since…well, since TWILIGHT (you know you did too).
THE HUNGER GAMES is the story of a dystopian society, known as Panem (formerly North America). The shining city at the center is the Capitol, surrounded on all sides by Districts 1-13 (but District 13 is no more because they were obliterated by the Capitol many years back because of a revolt). As a reminder of this trespass, Districts 1-12 are forced to pay a yearly tribute, one young man and one young woman, who, all but one, are sent to their deaths in a Gladiator-esque arena, all of which is televised for the entire society to watch in real time.
Viewing is compulsory.
Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s THE LOTTERY, the citizens all gather round their young to await the drawing of the numbers. In an unheard of gesture, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to go in place of her younger sister Prim. Along with the male tribute Peeta, the Baker’s son, she is jettisoned from the poor coal mining country (formerly the Appalachians) to the glitter and glamour of the Capitol. What follows is a televised presentation of the contestants with all of the glitz and drama of a Miss America pagaent.
Then it is a fight to the death. The twenty-four contestants are dropped off in the middle of nowhere (the Arena) to fight each other to the death. With her cunning and resourcefulness, Katniss really puts the VIV in SURVIVOR. While the set-up is contemptible, the game is such a compulsive watch (and read), that I can see how the Hunger Games is such a popular show for Capitol citizens. The character of Katniss is complex, emotional with true grit and compassion. Themes of war and survival, capitalism and colonialism, friendship and barbarianism are gripping and true-to-life. The worlds Collins creates–from the Seam, to the Capitol, to the Arena–are just stunning in their detail and follow-through.
The tension never wavers and I got the goosebumps while reading again and again. I’m laying bets now that HUNGER GAMES gets bought up for the big screen, since it is a story that appeals to a wide audience and has all the makings of a Bestseller (which it is)–suspense, action, romance, thrills, sadness and a deeper, long-lasting message.
And now the sequel, CATCHING FIRE is available in hardback!
All I can say is, I haven’t anticipated the sequel to a book, since… well, since TWILIGHT!
For more about this series and another of Collins called the Underland Chronicles, visit www.suzannecollinsbooks.com