(30) The games people play

Title: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
384 pages
Genre: YA

Synopsis: In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.

Review: I'd heard so much about this book from other people that I had to give it a go.  That and the fact that the movie is being made and its being tweeted about non-stop so I had to see what all the fuss was.

Katniss is a hard character to get to know.  She is very closed off but she is also very determined to protect her family.  Once you get to know her though you fall in love.  Determined, brave, a survivor, but a little naive in the ways of politics,  you can't help but route for her.

The story itself is very dark.  Even life before they games is not exactly rosy.  The author definitely seems to lay the ground work for future stories.  Throwing in information that intrigues you and makes you want to learn more such as what happened to District 13 - did they really get destroyed? Did no one survive?

The unrequited love story between Katniss and Peeta shows just how naive and young Katniss really is.  Its easy to forget her age with everything that is going on but this story line really brings it back to life.  Katniss thinks this is all part of the strategy to win, she has never kissed a boy before and subtlety flies right over her head. She has one objective to stay alive and everything else she thinks is part of the game. 

To me this book was like a combination of the story The Lottery and the movie Running Man.  A fight to the death with the whole world watching while the powers that be continue to throw obstacles in your way. The contestants chosen by lottery, forced to participate in a brutal game that no one wants to play but whose society forces it to be festive. Even the winners although they are showered with gifts have to then mentor future tributes from their district.  In other words prepare them to most likely die. Is this really a prize?

The story is left fairly open with the potential for many twists and turns.  I guess I'm going to be ordering the 2nd book in the series fairly soon so I can find out what becomes of our fateful hero.