In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: * * *
I have really mixed emotions on this book and put off reviewing it for almost a week now, trying to hash out my thoughts. Overall, it's an amazing story. The story pulls you in and keeps you hanging on throughout; it's very intense and full of hold-your-breath moments.
The writing style fits the narrator, Katniss, with her straight forward approach to life and attention to detail. I felt empathetic towards her situation though I just couldn't connect with her. This character was written perfectly for her setting but, even though she makes incredible sacrifices for her family, I simply did not like her much. I kept expecting major character growth that never came. Rumor has it that comes in book 2. Guess we will have to wait and see. My favorite character was Rue. She was lightness in a dark world.
The greatest problem I had with this book was the overall darkness of it. Of course this is completely a personal preference, but I try to stay away from anything too dark. It's one of the reasons I read fantasy. I'm okay with monsters behaving monstrously, but I struggle when humans behave as such. The ugliness of the capitol's behavior and the whole set up of the hunger games was so awful and truthfully just too much for me.
"Taking kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch -- this is the Capitol's way of reminding is how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion. Whatever words they use, the real message is clear. 'Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there's nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen.'" pg 18 The Hunger Games
I would be okay with such a dark theme if there was more hope in the story line. This is dystopian literature, after all, and I was expecting an evil, oppressive force. I was just expecting a character who rose above it or an event that represented hope for their future. I kept waiting. I thought the ending would be uplifting. Nope. Not really.
So did I hate it? No. It was a really good story with a less than stellar conclusion. Would I recommend it? Yup. Just with a "beware of the dark" warning. Will I continue on into the series? Absolutely. Ever the optimist, I believe there's a happy ending somewhere for the people of the 12 districts. Will I see the movie? You betcha.
Novel to Movie:
One thing that really got me reading The Hunger Games was the upcoming movie. I really do try to read a book before seeing the movie if at all possible. The trailer looks amazing for the upcoming movie ***chill bumps*** and this just might be a case of me liking the movie better than the book. I think the right actress could draw me into the Katniss character better than the book did. Hmm. Well, once I see the movie, I'll let you know. ;)