Fighting with the Sky

Book Review: The Hunger Games

Posted on: August 6, 2010

I’ve recently finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (the first in a series, next is Catching Fire and Mockingjay comes out at the end of August).  I was surprisingly impressed by the book.  I had heard really good things about it, but I had no idea that it focused on a strong, self-sufficient 16-year-old girl.

The Hunger Games takes place in a the future in the continent of North America, but the country is now referred to as Panem.  Panem is made up of 12 districts surrounding the Capitol (which, from the sounds of it, seems to be around the Denver area).  Katniss is from the 12th district, the poorest of them all and she comes the poor part of district 12.  She has to provide for both her mother and her little sister.  She does this by hunting illegally in the woods around the district — she can shoot an arrow through the eye of any animal (because then it doesn’t waste any meat.  Every year, the Capitol hosts the Hunger Games as a way to remind the districts of their control over them.  A boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected from each district to participate and fight each other to the death to declare themselves the victors of the Hunger Games.

Katniss’ sister, Prim, is originally selected as the female sacrifice tribute for her district, but Katniss volunteers herself, not wanting to see her 12-year-old sister put through that.  Katniss and her fellow district 12 tribute, Peeta, have to learn how to fight within the arena.  It’s as much of a competition of survival as it is of fighting.  But it becomes very obvious from the beginning that the Capitol and the Gamemakers like to exert their control over the tributes as a way of making sure that all the districts stay in line.  Katniss is well aware of this so she is able to outsmart and out-maneuver them.  You’ll have to read the book if you want to find out more about what happens specifically.

I liked this book on multiple levels.  First of all, it was a science fiction/futuristic teen book that did not revolve around vampires.  It had an original storyline that kept me interested.  It was not just a book about these Hunger Games, but about government control and living in a society with little personal freedom.

Secondly, I loved that the main character was a teenage girl.  Katniss is a girl that doesn’t trust many people because she has had to fend for herself for most of her life.  Her trust doesn’t come easy.  She can take care of her family by hunting, which is traditionally something that we see men doing in pop culture (just so you know, her hunting companion is male).  It becomes clear right from the beginning, and even more so once the Hunger Games begin, that Katniss is smart, strong, loyal, and yet compassionate.

One thing that I did not like about the storyline was that Katniss and Peeta’s mentor thrust them into a “fake” romantic relationship in order to gain public support within the Games.  I thought that it kept the storyline interesting and romantic relationships are something that a lot of teens will be interested in seeing int he books that they read.  It was important for Katniss’ character development for her to be able to trust Peeta with her life as well as admit that she needed help.  But I didn’t really like that Katniss needed Peeta in order to survive.  Towards to the end, it became very apparent that it was actually Peeta that needed Katniss.  However, their relationship just kind of felt wrong because I felt like it was bringing Katniss down from her full potential.  As with most storylines, there are negatives and positives though.

I was very pleasantly surprised to see that The Hunger Games was all about a teenage girl.  I have to admit that I didn’t really know a whole lot about the book before I started reading it.  I didn’t even know that it centered on a teenage girl.  I think that this would be a great book for teenage girls as opposed to something like Twilight, where the main girl is so emotionally as well as physically dependent on a guy.


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