Here comes a long-overdue review of a book I absolutely LOVED. Yup, it's the book-blogging favorite, the soon-to-be-motion-picture-blockbuster, Hunger Games!
Seriously, have you read this book? After I got burned a couple of times with certain YA books that everybody seemed to love (Eclipse? Hush, Hush?), I was just not that sure about Hunger Games. The unusual cover certainly drew me in, as it seemed to promise an actual plot, and I caved in and read it.
In like one day.
Here's the layout, although I'm pretty sure you already know what this book is all about. The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, lives in a dystopian country of Panem, in it's poorest area, called simply District 12. Soon, she is selected to participate in Hunger Games - a gladiator-style combat between children, where there can be only one winner, seeing as they fight each other to death. Each district sends two contestants - a girl and a boy - and Katniss' companion/enemy is the sometimes-adorable, sometimes-despicable character of Peeta. There is also the character of Gale, Katniss' best friend and possible love interest.
Okay, so before we continue, go and buy the book. Seriously. Okay, all done? Let's continue with the review.
I was shocked and amazed by the level of trust and respect author Suzanne Collins seems to have for her young readers. Not since J. K. Rowling have I seen a young adult book so frank when it came to not only violence, but poverty, oppression, politics, and any other uncomfortable topic. This book will not play it safe or sugarcoat, and I believe this is highly commendable. And just so you know, the book packs a powerful punch - it is emotional, scary, exciting and often very violent. On the other hand, its aim is never to simply shock and, given its unorthodox topic, it is never exploitative.
The character of Katniss is a make-it-or-break-it kind of character, since the book relies mostly on her. I am happy to say she is one of the most impressively written characters I've ever read in YA. Other characters are equally good, if somewhat marginalized, and I particularly enjoyed the character of Peeta and his arch. The novel ends in a cliffhanger of sorts, so I am very excited to read the sequel sometime soon and see where these characters are going.
I hear they are making a movie based on the first book in the series, and obviously I am interested in seeing it, if only to see if they have done the book justice. The book itself closely resembles a novel entitled Battle Royale by the Japanese author Koushun Takami (never read it), as well as its movie adaptation (never seen it, though there is a trailer on YouTube - beware, it's not for the faint of heart).
All in all, I could not recommend Hunger Games more. It's an honest, smart and intriguing start of what is surely a fantastic series and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books, starting with the sequel, Catching Fire.