First off, for my regular blog readers, the reason I’ve not been posting as much lately is because I’m spending almost all of my free time working on NaNoWriMo. I promise that once December gets here, I will be back to my regular reading schedule.
Okay…The Hunger Games. I am not a huge fan of dystopic novels. Not sure why, I guess I don’t like to think about life as I know it ending and some horrible system cropping up in its place. That said, I loved, loved, LOVED this book! It had everything…exciting adventure, political and socio-economic themes and a nice emerging romance that I look forward to the playing out of in the next books in the series.
The story takes place in a sparsely populated country which emerged when the United States was destroyed. The country is ruled by an oppressive government in The Capitol. The rest of the country is divided into districts where the people work to supply goods to The Capitol. The people living in the districts are not free to travel or speak against the system. Most of them are kept in extreme poverty, starvation and malnourishment being leading causes of death.
Katniss is a sixteen year old girl living in District 12, the coal mining area of the country. She lives in the Seam, an impoverished area where food is scarce. To supplement the meager rations her family is allowed to receive from the government, Katniss and her friend Gale spend their time illegally hunting and gathering in the forest beyond the fences, where people of the District are not allowed to go.
In order to keep the citizens in the Districts from rebelling against The Capitol, the government devises cruel ways to keep the people under their thumb. One of these ways is by staging the annual Hunger Games. Each year, the names of children between the ages of twelve and eighteen are placed into a lottery. One boy and one girl are drawn at random and forced to participate in the games. The games are broadcasted countrywide and watching is mandatory. The game players are whisked off to an enormous outdoor area that can be any landscape and can have any number of perils in it. The object is, players fight to the death. The last one standing wins. The prize? Fame, fortune and food for their District.
The game is basically a modern version of human sacrifice for entertainment…not much different than the Romans sending the Christians in to arenas with hungry lions. What I loved about this book is that it was more than just an entertaining story. What is says about human nature and social-classism is brilliant. Players in the game can go from being normal, good kids to savage murderers over night, all for the sake of survival. The lottery system is structured so that poorer children are entered into the drawing more times than rich children, increasing their chances that their names will be called.
I also enjoyed the strategy part of the games. Everything that happens from the time the name is drawn to the time when the victor returns home is carefully staged for the entertainment of the citizens in The Capitol and for players to land wealthy sponsors. Katniss discovers the difficulty in knowing what is real and what is strategy when her competitor, Peeta, the boy from District 12 reveals something on national TV right before the kick-off of the games. I don’t want to give anything away, but it lead to one of my favorite plotlines in the novel.
Overall, I give The Hunger Games…
Plot – 5 bookmarks
Character Development – 4 bookmarks
Love Story – 4 bookmarks
Social Commentary – 4 ½ bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Kristin Stewart (Katniss), Hunter Parrish (Peeta), Phillip Kelley, my best friend from high school (Gale), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Haymitch), Megan Mullally (Effie), Jodelle Ferland (Rue), Tim Gunn (Cinna)