Gripping, linear, action-packed, first-person, protagonist-centred extreme coming-of-age story.
374 pages, ★★★★★
The Hunger Games are no-rules, last-man-standing battles organised by the tyrannical rulers of a fictitious North American country. Two fighters (“tributes”, as they’re called) are picked from each of the country’s twelve districts at annual nomination ceremonies (“reapings”). Brave, 16-year-old protagonist Katniss Everdeen volunteers to enter this deadly battle to save her younger sister, who was initially chosen. Unlike her sister, Katniss is proficient with a bow-and-arrow, and thinks she might stand a chance at being the one surviving fighter in the arena.
Such challenging circumstances can catalyse the process of falling in love. Enter Peeta, who was chosen to fight alongside Katniss. Peeta is a weaker, more sentimental character who has had a crush on Katniss since they were children. In a confused, teenage way, they kiss many times on the battlefield, and fall in love.
Falling in love is a rite of passage for Katniss. On page 137, she says Peeta’s love makes her feel grown up. Naturally, she’s confused by her own feelings. On page 373, Katniss whines, “it’s no good loving me because I’m never going to get married anyway and he’d just end up hating me later rather than sooner”.
Sometimes, she doubts whether she loves Peeta. On page 358, she says that rebelliousness, not love, was her reason for kissing him. On page 298, she discounts her actions and says, “this is the first kiss where we actually wanted each other”.
On other occasions, she admits to being completely besotted. By page 345, they threaten the Hunger Games organisers with a slightly-silly near-double-suicide pact rather than continuing to live without each other. In just a few days, their love has become more important than life itself. Teenagers can be quite like that.
Reading The Hunger Games, I feel like I’m standing right in the protagonist’s shoes. This fast, action-packed, first-person and linear book would lend itself very well to a first-person shooter (FPS) computer game.
I think the Hunger Games is a caricaturisation of the dog-eat-dog mentality in some schools. Kids are forced to undergo gruelling examinations when they would rather be playing—or falling in love. Could that be why teenagers worldwide have clicked so avidly to this “cruel adults make teenagers fight to the death” story? Possibly so.
Book one was so good that I bought book two. Review coming tomorrow. ★★★★★
- The Tributes Get New Uniforms for THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (collider.com)
- The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins (agoldoffish.wordpress.com)
- A Literature Snob Reads the Hunger Games. And Likes It. (jamesroom.org)
- Hunger Games Beauty: Get Katniss’s Opening Ceremonies Look (bellasugar.com)
- The Hunger Games (dihs2011reading.wordpress.com)