In Suzanne Collins’ post-apocalyptic world, once a year 24 children are sacrificed to compete to the death in the Hunger Games. The country known as Panem is composed of 12 Districts that encircle the power center known as the Capitol. Every year each District must send one randomly selected boy and girl to the Arena where their battle for survival and glory is broadcasted reality TV-style for all of Panem to see. (Warning: following review contains some spoilers).
In book 1, titled The Hunger Games, we follow District 12 female ‘tribute’, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, as she takes the place of her sister to compete in the 74th annual Hunger Games. Along with 12’s male tribute, Peeta Mellark, she starts her journey into the madness of the Arena. In order to gain favor with the viewers, Katniss and Peeta play the roll of lovers, a ploy that is really only an act to one of them. Together, they must not only fight the other bloodthirsty and desperate tributes but also the horrors the game makers have set throughout the Arena itself. But teamwork can only bring you so far. In the end, only one tribute can win victory the Hunger Games.
The story continues in Catching Fire, where Katniss returns home to find she has unintentionally sparked civil unrest with her actions to save Peeta in The Hunger Games. In order to protect the lives of those she loves, she must prove the lie that all her actions were out of her love for Peeta and not out of rebellion against the Capitol. Katniss’ luck worsen as this year’s Hunger Games are announced as the Quarter Quell, where previous winners are forced back into the Arena to relive the terror. New alliances are formed as Katniss devotes herself to protecting Peeta’s life this time instead of her own. But outside the Games, a storm brews.
The trilogy comes to a close in Mockingjay. With Peeta held captive by the Capitol and the Districts in open revolt, Katniss becomes the Mockingjay. As a symbol of hope and freedom, Katniss realizes that although she is no longer in the Arena, the Hunger Games have not ended for her. While battling a brutal case of what can only be described as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Katniss struggles to unite the Districts and bring an end to the tyrannical rule of the Capitol.
The Hunger Games Trilogy is an addictive, action packed story, threaded with love and betrayal, horror and dark humor. Katniss makes for an interesting narrator. I could never really come to love her (or really any of the characters to be honest), but I did come to respect her. I enjoyed the action and intensity of the Arena even as I found much of the premise unrealistic. The relationships the characters shared were very real. There was conflict and grit, even within families and between old friends. I give it 8 out of 10 stars.
If you liked the survival and the death of innocence aspects of this book, try looking into the classic Lord of the Flies by William Golding. If your looking for a lot more gore and a lot less love, I recommend Battle Royale by Koushun Takami.
“I want to die as myself. Does that make any sense? I don’t want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not.” – Peeta, The Hunger Games