Sunday, 20 March 2011
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Synopsis: In a future that is not too far away, the districts of a country called Panem are kept in check by the Hunger Games, reality TV gone seriously wrong. Every year the name of one girl and one boy from each district are pulled out of a hat and these 24 teenagers must literally compete to the death in a special arena. The competiton is manipulated by mysterious all-seeing "Gamemakers" and every move is captured on camera. Katniss Everdeen volunteers for the games after her sister's name is drawn and the novel follows her quest to try to stay alive.
The best thing about this book was that it was absolutely gripping. There was a quote on the front of my edition from Stephen King saying the the book was 'full of suspense and unputdownable'. And it really was. At some points while reading I reached a point where it would have been nice to put the book down for a bit and think about it before carrying on, but I just couldn't because so much was going on and I was desperate to find out what would happen next. All credit to Collins for that and for making the action unpredictable.
The satire on the reality TV genre was really well done too. I liked how Katniss was aware of being filmed at every moment and constantly manipulating her responses and reactions so as to appear in a positive way to the audience. Katniss herself was a wonderful character - a born survivor but you could still perceive as the reader how hard everything was for her. The other characters taking part in the games were all very vivid and well written.
I do think there was a little bit too much dystopia for me personally. I don't think Collins needed to invent a new country called Panem; the Hunger Games could have come out of America or Britain in a few decades, and that would have been much more powerful. I don't know if I want to read the rest of the series or not - I enjoyed the actual Hunger Games part of this one and don't know whether I want to read about a rebellion with Katniss at the forefront. And finally a minor quibble - I really don't like the UK cover and Katniss looks nothing like how I imagined on the front.
Verdict: Interesting idea, well written.
Score: 3.5 out of 5