The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is a fast-paced and explosive trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. I was told by multiple people to read the first book and I only wish that I had listened sooner. It was probably a good six months before I walked into a Half-Priced Books and asked if there was a copy available. The lady behind the book drop-off met my query with one sentence proceeded by a small laugh, “Rarely, and if we do get a copy it’s gone within seconds.” Deeming what I know to be an exaggeration, logically the only thing to sell in seconds are Lady Gaga tickets, I could only assume that the majority of people who bought the books are keeping them as permanent fixtures in their home libraries.

The Hunger Games

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The story follows the protagonist Katniss Everdeen, using her elite archery and survival skills as she struggles through the sadistic Hunger Games. The Games take place in a post-apocalyptic North America, a country called Panem divided into 13 districts and a Capitol. The Capitol, a magnificent candy-colored city, hosts the games as an everlasting reminder of the defeat of the 13 districts at the hands of The Capitol in a previous revolution. Every year, one boy and girl are selected from each district via lottery to participate. The premise is simple: 24 kids enter the arena and 1 leaves. Everyone’s Goal: Stay alive until you are the last one standing. (For those of you that caught the discrepancy in the math, one district does not send kids. You’ll just have to read the books.)

The first book is immensely gripping, it had me actually rocking on the edge of my seat the entire time. Without giving away too much, as I progressed through the story with these characters it was no surprise, I knew all the children were marching to less than happy fates. The questions lingering in the back of my mind were: “How long can these characters survive? How will they die?” Even though I was hoping for the best outcome, it made for a rather serious dichotomy of emotions, further complicated by the relationships between the characters.

A rather unexpected, yet crucial plot device is an emotional-triangle strained by the Games. This becomes essential in Katniss’ ability to keep her life during the slaughter. It is a thought provoking element which left me feverish, like knowing at any moment a bomb could go off somewhere. Despite its seeming cliché, it did not detract from the suspense, thrill, and twists of the story.

As I read The Hunger Games, I could feel it commanding every bit of my attention. Midway through the book, as The Games started, I couldn’t will myself to go to the bathroom. I held it till the end of the chapter, my bladder angry. Akin to going to a movie and holding it to the bitter end.

Alas, at the end of this book, there is no relief. The tension grows and it grips you. After finishing this first book in paperback, I couldn’t make it a day without picking up the second. I went to Target to pick up the whole trilogy in hardcover. I am thoroughly happy and outrageously engrossed with my purchase. In short, use the bathroom before reading this book. You won’t want to miss a thing.

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There are lessons and a bigger picture shared in the book. Societal ideals and social differences between first and second world issues are loaded into the story. Reality television, war, harsh realities, a difference in backgrounds, tolerance, and survival are major themes.

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