Review published on April 19, 2012. Reviewed by Rachel Roberts
Katniss Everdeen lives in a world that is controlled by the central government, an unquestionable authority that has devised a series of ‘Games’ in order to demonstrate its ultimate power to its’ citizens on a yearly basis. The Hunger Games dictate that two young people from every district will be selected to compete in a game of survival in which there can be only one winner. Contestants face an inescapable fight to the death, which will be publicized nationwide as a form of morbid entertainment.
Suzanne Collins writes a highly addictive novel that transports the reader into Katniss’s world of emotional turmoil and crossed loyalties. Collins provides the reader with just enough background information about the nation in which they live, Panem, to explain the situation in a way that makes sense, yet leaves the reader wondering exactly what other stories go untold. Using this method, Collins portrays the characters’ own mistrust and lack of certainty regarding how they will be treated. From the very beginning of the novel you are drawn into Katniss’s world. References to ‘entrails’, the description of District Twelve, and her abilities to hunt give a clear picture of her lifestyle whilst keeping the story moving. The novel is perfectly paced, allowing the reader to connect with Katniss and feel for her as the story becomes increasingly intense.
Collins intrigues the reader regarding Panem’s history; she describes her fictional nation as being in the exact location of what once was North America. Collins has created a whole new world- but not one that is so different that we cannot begin to comprehend it. This novel is not only focused on survival and power. The dangerous situation Katniss finds herself in also allows Collins to explore themes such as loyalty, honesty, false pretense and love. To what extent should we continue to lie to those we care about in the name of survival? Could we ourselves ever bare to face death in order to protect another? How do we know who we can trust, and for how long will this trust stay alive? The pressures of mixed loyalties and uncertainty continuously pervade the novel.
A further success of this novel is how skillfully Collins continues to portray a character that never fails to be believable despite the harsh conditions that she faces. Katniss misjudges things and makes mistakes; she is human. Collins draws the reader in with emotional detail and the first person narrative approach.
I have never read anything quite like The Hunger Games; the whole concept of the novel is so innovative and emotionally powerful that I would recommend it to anyone looking to start a new series to read incessantly.