It’s taken a little longer to post this review than I expected it would. That’s mainly because I wasn’t able to stop after reading Suzanne Collins’ first novel in this series. “The Hunger Games” is the first in the trilogy that carries over into “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay”. It’s the story of Katniss Everdeen, a seventeen year old girl who becomes a tribute in the Hunger Games, a twisted gladiatorial competition in which two tributes from each of Panem’s twelve districts are forced to participate. It is an annually televised “reality show” wherein the twenty-four tributes are forced to battle each other to the death in an acres-wide arena filled with deadly terrain, genetically engineered flora and fauna, and mobile traps designed to move the action along for the viewers when things get too boring.
The setting is a dystopian future in which global warming and wars have decimated much of the world, and a corrupt government has taken its lessons from ancient Rome – distract the populace with enough blood to entertain them, and remind them of who’s in charge. At the same time, keep them impoverished and oppressed, convinced that they’re lucky to receive the dregs left behind by the Capital.
By the end of the first book, Katniss realizes that she’s become a pawn in a plot that is much larger than the Games. She learns to play for the cameras, and the hearts of the viewers, and through them, perhaps change the very fabric of her society. I won’t give spoilers here, but I will say that even though the story is written as a young adult novel, it is darker than most YA fiction I’ve read, and entertaining enough to keep this fifty year old kid engaged. It alternates between multilayered plotlines that are in places rather simplistic, and in others quite thought-provoking.
Since this review is specifically for the first book, “The Hunger Games”, I won’t go into the other two books in the trilogy. I couldn’t do so anyway without spoiling some of the plotlines of the first book. All I will say is that Suzanne Collins is an author I will be supporting by buying more of her work. I highly recommend this entire series. I would give it four out of five stars.