Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
As soon as our library copy of The Hunger Games has been returned by a library patron it never sits on the shelf but immediately gets put in the special area for the next person who has placed a hold. This has been going on for several months and the hold list is extremely long! I’ve been wondering what was making ‘The Hunger Games’ such a popular series that the books are never on the shelves in the library, and now I understand!
The first book creates a dreary picture of the future in which a country called Panem has been divided into thirteen sections and is ruled by “The Capitol”, a completely tyrannical government. Although the form of the government is not described in the first novel in this series, I sensed that it was an oligarchy (rule of the wealthy) although it might pretend to be a democracy.
To ensure its grip over the people, the government has divided the country into 13 sections and sometime in the past it completely obliterated section 13 which tried to rebel. Additionally, the government sadistically delights in “entertaining” the populace with an annual event called ‘The Hunger Games’.
Two adolescents (one boy and one girl) are selected by a lottery system from each of the twelve remaining districts and are placed in an enormous arena to kill or be killed. The residents of Panem are then forced to watch the weeks-long drama on television. It is torture for those people unless they are from the Capitol where the people delight in the ‘sport’. Of course, they do not have to send their own children into the hellhole of the arena.
The premise of this book really did not appeal to me, but I found myself drawn in by the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, who chose to volunteer for the arena when her younger sister’s name was drawn in the annual lottery. Romantic drama is provided when Peeta, a boy from her district who has had a crush on her for years, is also chosen to take part. A love triangle is a possibility when another boy, Gale, is briefly introduced and then comes into Katniss’ mind repeatedly during her time in the arena.
The fact that there are more books in the series lets the readers know that Katniss surely survives. The action is well-paced and the main characters are more likeable as the story progresses. This is the reason that I liked this book far more than the “Twilight” series by Meyers. Those characters were all self-absorbed and there was too much teenage angst over-riding any depth within their personalities.
I have put my holds on the next two books in this series. Hope my hold on #2 comes up before my hold on #3!

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