Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
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Based in the post-apocalyptic world, the Hunger Games tells the dark tale of the struggle for survival of a 16 year old, Katniss. The story describes her struggle to support her family after the death of her father and goes up on describe her journey to a reality show were young teens are pitted to compete against each other until only one survives. The stage is set for a thrilling yet maddening journey as she fights for her survival and battles her instincts to stay alive.
The nation of "Panem" is divided into twelve districts controlled by the absolutist Capitol headed by the President Snow. To remind the twelve districts of the consequences of rebellion against the almighty Capitol, a televisionised event of "The Hunger Games" are organised wherein a young 12 year old Primrose is chosen as the "tribute"(participant) but instead her elder sister, Katniss volunteers to take her place. The boy tribute from her district is her ex-classmate Peeta Mellark, the baker's son who she owes a favour of giving her bread once when she was starving. They are taken away to the Capitol, where the games are held. They are prepped and groomed and stylist are employed by the Gamemakers or the organisers so that the tributes may garner sponsors. The mentor for district twelve is a dipsomaniac, Haymitch, the only living victor from their district. So Katniss has to pretty much rely on her own instincts to stay alive.
The story is well-written and gripping from the beginning itself. The character of Katniss Everdeen is strong free-willed as opposed to the oppressing rule of the Capitol. Rightly referred to throughout the series as "The Girl on Fire" her character does live up to the name. She is fierce, she is brave and she will do anything to reunite with her sister. Even though hunting being a crime in the district she is quite a skilled hunter, one of the few skills she learnt from her father, that keeps her alive in the game. She has that raw spirit in her that lights her up. She is defiant when put through rules and obligations. . Her actions are often questionable while Peeta Mellark, the boy from her district portrays what it means to be yourself and not submit to society's expectations. For instance, when in desperate need for help, Katniss fakes her feeling for the bread boy so that she could win sponsors. She describes herself as "not good at pleasing people". Peeta on the other hand is good with words. He is naive and is hopelessly in love with Katniss.
The greatness of the piece lies in the fact that Suzanne Collins has dared to write something as dark as kids killing off each other for survival and yet managed to make it appropriate for teens and adults alike. The book also raises concerns as to what viewers expect out of a reality show and how the show-creators exploit their viewers. This particular topic quite catches my interest due to its relevance in the real world. The makers mend rules as and when it seems to profit them. Their morality is a deep concern. Their actions are influenced by the government which makes their us question their dedication to their work. Thrilling elements are introduced in the game to keep the viewers entertained. The tributes are nothing more than pieces to their game and that does sound disturbing particularly considering what the reality show business is turning out in the present.
The book is the first of the trilogy and the other two parts are even more engrossing. The book is widely applauded and recommended. The characters are cleverly depicted and the tale will hang about in your thoughts. Reading The Hunger Games can lead to daunting discussions about oppression, authoritarian government and the world of entertainment and reality shows.