When sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen finds herself selected as a contestant for the annual Hunger Games her world is turned upside down. Whisked from her squalid and impoverished home in District 12 she arrives in the dazzling and overwhelming Capitol. Soon she will be thrust into the arena, an unimaginably cruel and sadistic place created and controlled by the game keepers.
Katniss belongs to a new world, a scary and often dark place which emerged after an apocalyptic event saw the end of the world as we know it. In her world twelve districts are ruled by the resplendent and domineering Capitol. Whilst the Districts live in poverty, the Capitol shines with wealth. There were once thirteen districts, but when they all conspired to overthrow the Capitol, the thirteenth was destroyed. Now every year a boy and girl from age twelve to eighteen is picked from each district to compete in the Hungers Games. A fiercely cruel game set to remind each district of the Capitols omniscient power.
To win the competition the contestants must fight to the death in the arena. The last remaining contestant is the victor, but as Katniss prepares for the mission ahead she can’t help wondering if, after killing all contestants, will she really be a champion?
The Hunger Games takes all ideas of morality, love and humanity and turns them on their head. How far can one person go to survive if it means slaughtering innocent people?
I recently read an article where Collins explained that part of her inspiration came from the multitude of reality shows that congest our tv’s. I can see her logic. We live in a world obsessed with reality programmes, we morbidly watch as unlikely groups of people are banded together to live in confined quarters for our viewing pleasure. Team this with our ever increasing desensitisation to violence and you can conceive of a world like Katniss’s where The Hunger Games exists.
Although I do suspect that much of this stories success and appeal lies in the simple fact that Collins is, to put it simply, a brilliant story-teller. Often The Hungers Games is not the most eloquently or poetically written novel. Nor does Collins spend too much time deeply reflecting in any detail the impact of the world she has created. Some writers might have given more time and devotion into intricately exploring the reality of Katniss’s world, but where this novel lacks any intense musings, it more than makes up for it in an intoxicating, vivid and relentlessly captivating story.
I for one was hooked with this book. I loved the speculative nature of it, teamed with Collins talent for building suspense and drama. From page one I felt compelled to learn more about Katniss’s life, to see where her journey would take her and if she would survive. I actually felt slightly bereft upon finishing this book, what could I possibly read next that would captivate my attention so deeply?
This book is light and easy but it holds your attention and keeps you riveted throughout. Next time I find myself craving a book that I can wile away the hours with I will certainly reach for the next in this trilogy. So who else has read The Hunger Games, do you love it as much as me? Will you be reading the next one? Or perhaps you’ve read them all? I’d love to hear your thoughts.