Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games Book 1
Year published: 2008
Time It Took To Read: Five greedy hours
Wow. I've literally just finished this and I am slightly in awe of how good it was. I was expecting something between Twilight and His Dark Materials: with Twilight being a waste of paper bound in black, and His Dark Materials being a dystopian religious allegory. It was neither, thank God.
I don't tend to read a lot of teen fiction. In truth, I never read much of it when I actually was a teen. The exceptions were the gloriously bad Making Out series, Point Horror and the Diving In books by Kate Cann. My experience of teen fiction is mostly overblown MY FEELINGS emo rubbish, where everyone's called Tripp.
The Hunger Games doesn't disappoint on ridiculous names - the heroine is called Katniss - but this is explained by the alternate universe of Panem. The world has been split into districts which serve the capital (usefully known as Capitol, which kept reminding me of CAPITAL CITY in Simpsons) in a feudal manner. As punishment, Capitol holds annual Hunger Games, which are a parody of the Olympics, an excuse for district pride. Each district is forced to send two teenaged tributes, one boy and one girl, to fight it out to the death, a la Battle Royale. Obviously, our heroine Katniss becomes a tribute.
The book then goes into detail explaining the farcical measures which Capitol take to turn this bloodbath into a commercial event, detailing the betting system and the pre and post games interviews as a media event. The author has taken note of Big Brother and the ilk in her fantasy world. Once the games begin, it becomes a study in survival, and really comes into it's own. I absolutely LOVE methodical survival/kill stories; Day of The Jackal is one of my favourites.
And so children kill other children in the name of entertainment. The idea that this might be the natural conclusion of the current swathe of entertainment shows is absurd, but it makes for compelling reading. There is just enough humanity to keep it realistic all the way through, even with the psychotic sci fi twist towards the end.
It never once struck me that I was reading a book aimed at teenagers. The frailty and vulnerability of life shone throughout, the teen streak of rebellion mixed with compliance was totally believable. I loved it. Tomorrow, I start on the second book!
Book count: 13/50