The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games (The First Book of The Hunger Games)
I went into the first book of the trilogy with a sense of trepidation. I was expecting it not to live up
to all the recommendations I received, and had a vague notion that I might encounter sparkling skin
or oblivious parents. I decided to try it out anyway and see what all the fuss was about.
Panem, the land where the series is set, is a post-apocalyptic North America. Floods have set in and
most of the coastal areas are underwater. Remaining are 12 Districts whose residents mine, farm and
produce materials for the Capitol, which rules all the Districts.
The Hunger Games is essentially a reality television show for the entertainment of the Capitol
residents, but it also acts as a reminder to the Districts that the Capitol has ultimate power. It takes
place in an outdoor arena created by the Gamemakers. There are 24 contestants: 1 boy and 1 girl
randomly chosen from each District between the ages of 12 and 18. However, there is one crucial
addition to the reality television genre. The contestants must fight to the death, and the last one
alive is the winner.
We see the Games through the eyes of Katniss, who chooses to go into the arena to protect her
younger sister Prim. She is not meek or docile or compliant with the system, she is a ball of flames
and her personality erupts off the page. Collins sculpts her voice in such a way that I was sucked into
her story within minutes. I didn’t put the book down until I had finished it and was immediately
desperate for more. Waiting for the next book, the oddest thing happened. I began to see the book
not as a work of fiction, but as a warning to today’s generation. The more I thought about it, the
more it seemed like Suzanne Collins was trying to teach her readers what such a high level of
materialistic culture will lead to. The Capitol citizens don’t care what kind of life the people in the
Districts have as long as it means they have everything they could ever want in life.
I’ve lost count of the amount of people I have recommended the book series to. The other two books
in the trilogy continue with the same ferocity and introduce revolutionary political ideas in a way
that makes complete sense. There is no jargon; everything is explained in plain and simple terms.
The series doesn’t confine itself to a genre; at the same time it is action, romance, horror, political
and feminist. Katniss is such a real character, she has real flaws and real fears and she doubts
herself. She is not a perfect model of a human being, but Collins uses her as a vessel through which
to tell a story about greed and corruption.
I highly recommend the series to people of any age. However, the highest recommendation goes to
young adults who don’t know anything about politics but want to. It sparked my interest in what goes
on in the world, and the idea of a political uprising is particularly relevant at the current time.
Katniss is not a heroine or a role model, but she is part of something bigger than herself, and that
‘something bigger’ will linger in your mind long after you finish the books.
Also see the rest of the trilogy...
Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)
Mockingjay (The Third Book of the Hunger Games)
The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxed Set