Suzanne Collins paints a startling picture of the future

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Copyright 2008, Scholastic Press

374 pages, YA sci-fi

Katniss Everdeen lives with her mother and younger sister in District 12, a portion of Panem, a country that stands in a place once called North America. The cruel Capital forces the districts to send one boy and one girl to compete in the survival competition called the Hunger Games. Katniss voluntarily takes her sister’s place in the Games, knowing that, whether she lives or dies, her life will be changed forever.

I can’t believe I didn’t read this book earlier. It has been sitting on the shelf in the young adult section in my little local library for a while, probably since it was first released, and I’ve just breezed right over it. Haven’t given it a second glance. I found it because it’s sequel, Catching Fire, was prominently displayed on the “New Releases Shelf.” I spoiled the story for myself, though: I read the inside flap of Catching Fire, which contained a major spoiler for The Hunger Games. This drawback didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story, however.

This book is extremely exciting, but also jarring, startling, unsettling, disturbing…the list of those sorts of descriptive words could go on forever. But, funnily enough, they aren’t necessarily used in a bad way. I know this is a science fiction novel, but Panem kind of makes sense. It, or something like it, could be the way we’re heading with the future. Don’t get me wrong, though– I sincerely hope we don’t.

There’s good character development, although Collins sometimes seems to overlook the “show, don’t tell” rule of descriptive writing. The numerous plot twists keep readers on the edge of their seats. I think that the story being told in present tense first person is a nice touch.It really makes you feel as if you’re inside Katniss’s head at the exact moment of action.

The story was a bit too solemn for my liking. Too much doom and gloom isn’t my style. But, it was good enough for me to rush back to the library to pick up the second book. (A review is coming soon for that, by the way.) And that’s some of the highest praise (at least in the suspense division) that a book can get.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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