1984, A Clockwork Orange, Planet of the Apes. All novels with a dystopian setting. Of course, writing dystopia didn’t end in the 1900s, to this day it is still an incredibly popular genre to write and read about. One such book is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
The Hunger Games takes place in the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem which has been divided into twelve (previously thirteen) districts and a place called The Capitol. Each year, two children are chosen from each district to represent their people in something called “The Hunger Games”, an event meant to remind the people in the districts that The Capitol holds all the power. The story follows Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen year old girl from District Twelve who volunteers in place of her twelve year old sister, Primrose, to enter the Games.
While many novels manage to capture the atrocities that happen in a dystopian society, something The Hunger Games does is it throws children right in the middle of the fight. All children chosen to fight in The Games are between twelve and eighteen. Twenty-four children go into the arena and only one comes out. While all novels in this genre feature awful things happening to people, I’m not sure it can really get much worse than children killing each other. Of course, the general premise of this book isn’t what really keeps the reader hooked. That would be the characters.
The two main characters are Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the two champions chosen from District Twelve. The wonderful thing about these two characters is that they seem to balance each other out. While Katniss is hard and doesn’t trust easily, Peeta is friendly and, even though he appears shy, is quite the enigmatic speaker. Of course, nothing these two do would mean much of anything if it weren’t for the other characters in the novel.
First is Katniss’s best friend, Gale, who hates The Games and wants nothing more than to run away to the forest. Then there’s Katniss’s sister, Primrose, who Katniss saves from the reaping. At only twelve years old, Prim is very childlike and the idea of The Games still scares her. Next is Haymitch, a previous champion of The Hunger Games, he is now mentor to Katniss and Peeta as they go through it. Working with Haymitch is Effie Trinket, a woman from The Capitol assigned to supervise the champions from District Twelve. Finally, there the other children who join Katniss and Peeta in the arena. One girl in particular stands out; twelve year old Rue becomes a friend and ally to Katniss while they are in The Games as the little girl reminds Katniss so much of her sister.
Now, these characters aren’t the only things that had be hooked on this book. Suzanne Collins writes brilliant dialogue and wonderful descriptions. When she describes the settings her novel, from District Twelve to The Capitol, you can see it in your mind as you are reading. You can see the dirt and coal dust in District Twelve; the obnoxious colours and decorations around The Capitol; even the tall trees in the arena that Katniss finds sanctuary in. Everything Collins describes is done in a way to make sure the reader knows exactly what is happening and what everything looks like. As for the dialogue, Collins’s characters come to life when they speak and she gives them all such unique personalities that you can’t help but be intrigued.
An excellent novel, The Hunger Games is the first in Collins’s trilogy, followed by Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Now a major motion picture starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who likes an adventure. From the open you turn to the first page, Suzanne Collins has you hooked, and you will want to keep reading all the way to the end to find out just who it is that wins The Hunger Games.
Have you read The Hunger Games? What did you think?