Sunday, September 20, 2009

Whets your appetite

Hunger Games

Set sometime in the (distant?) future, the U.S. has been replaced by a new nation-state called Panem. Once a year, the totalitarian government demands a "tribute" of two youths from each of the twelve districts. They are sent to compete in the Hunger Games, a gladiatorial battle for resources designed to both entertain and intimidate the citizens.

Katniss lives a hard-scrabble existence in the coal-mining district. She's an expert hunter who illegally poaches with her male friend Gale in the woods just outside their village. After the emotionally trying loss of her father and her mother's complete withdrawal, she is nearly solely responsible for the care of her younger sister Prim. When Prim is selected as the sacrifice, Katniss instantly volunteers to take her place. She and Peeta, the village baker's son, are sent to the Capitol. Katniss feels awful, as she considers Peeta a friend, but quickly forces herself to be pragmatic, hoping that someone else will kill Peeta first so that she doesn't have to.

After receiving makeovers, and enjoying opulence in the Capitol for the first time in their lives, Peeta makes the startling revelation (on-air, no less) that he's always harbored feelings for Katniss. All too soon, they are forced into battle. While most of the contestants pick each other off quickly in a battle for supplies, Peeta and Katniss form an uneasy alliance. Katniss quickly assumes Peeta's declaration of love for her is a shrewd gambit on his part, in a desperate gamble to assure a winning spot for both of them. She quickly decides to "play along" for the cameras never dreaming that his feelings are genuine. If she does survive, how long will she have to keep up the ruse? And how will she explain this to her not-quite boyfriend Gale back home?

I had several moments reading this where I had trouble suspending my disbelief long enough to really believe in this world. Or perhaps I am too much of an optimist... Somehow I can't picture people actually enjoying watching kids battle each other to the death on a reality tv show. But, then again, I can't believe that people enjoy going to see Body Worlds either. Ultimately, I absolutely really enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down. It's a great blend of action, suspense and dystopia with just a touch of romance.

One of the small consolations to having such a backlog of books to read is that I don't have to wait for the sequel. Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, was released at the beginning of this month. My next challenge: avoiding spoilers until I can get it into my hands!


I borrowed this book from the library.

2 comments:

  1. I'm not going to spoil it for you.... but it's good!! If you liked the first book, the second should not disappoint. But how did you get your hands on The Hunger Games? Last I checked, it had just as many (if not more) holds on it as Catching Fire... which I think is a great sign, since it's a great series so far, and so worthy of being read and discussed. I will be checking CARL, like, every day for the next year and a half trying to put my request in for the third book as soon as it comes out! I enjoyed all five books in the "Underland" chronicles, although not half as much as "Hunger Games," and so I have seen evidence that Suzanne Collins can pull off a good ending to a series. Yippee!

    =) sarah 26AN

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  2. I got on the waiting list for it, and waited, and waited, and waited for a verrrry long time. :P

    Hurrah for good endings! That is reassuring to hear. There's nothing worse than a sadistic writer who likes to torture us all with unsatisfying endings.

    I am number 155 on the list for Catching Fire... so it could be a while. Unless I break down and decide to buy it.

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