Book one: The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games,written by Suzanne Collins, is an exciting tale of survival. It is written in the present participle which I found interesting since most novels are written in the past tense. The story is set many decades in the future, in a place once referred to as North America, where natural disasters and war over resources have ravaged the land. Out of that chaos rises the country of Panem, where a tyrannical city-state called ‘The Capitol’ rules over 13 districts. These districts are really nothing more than concentration camps. These camps contain living quarters, stores, farms and/or mines, even a local ‘government’ with a mayor and ‘peace-keepers’. The districts are surrounded by electrified fences, said to keep out wild animals, but in reality it is to keep the people from escaping.
Seventy-four years before the story begins the districts rise up and rebel against the Capitol. However, the districts are defeated, and District 13 is completely annihilated. This uprising is referred to as ‘The Dark Days’. The remaining districts are forced to sign the ‘Treaty of Treason’ which lays down new laws to ‘guarantee peace’ in the country. As punishment for the uprising, the ‘Hunger Games’ are created. All citizens of Panem between the ages of twelve and eighteen must submit their names to the government. Once a year, one boy and one girl are chosen from each district to participate in a fight to the death. The last person standing will win a life of luxury and their home district will receive rewards, such as food and supplies for one year. The residents of the districts are required to celebrate the occasion and treat it as a ‘great honour’ to have their children taken from them and forced to watch all but one die.
The main character is Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen year old girl from District 12. She is a skilled hunter and an expert at using a bow & arrow. Most days she sneaks out into the forest to hunt. This is easy for her to do for a couple of reasons, one being that the electrified fences only have electricity running through them during the three hours a day her district actually receives electricity. Also, the peace-keepers, who are supposed to arrest people that sneak away, are just as hungry and poor as the rest of the district. Katniss sells the various animals she hunts at a place called ‘The Hobb’ which is essentially a ‘black market’. Without this ‘illegal’ trading post, most people in District 12 would simply starve to death.
On the day the names are chosen for the Seventy-fourth Annual Hunger Games, Katniss’ twelve year old sister is selected to compete, but Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place and save her from most likely being killed in the first few minutes of the games. She and a boy named Peeta Mellark, board a train and are taken to the Capitol, which is a glorious, technologically advanced metropolis. Katniss and the other twenty-three participants are well fed and groomed. They are given a parade and interviewed on live television. A training and judging session also takes place so that citizens of the Capitol can bet on who will win based on the score the judges give each participant. These scores are also used to get sponsors that shall provide ‘gifts’ to the players as the games progress. The twenty-four children are then taken to ‘The Arena’, which is a random landscape with a controlled climate that can be manipulated by the ‘Gamemakers’ to be hot, cold, stormy, etc. The Arena is also covered in booby-traps.
The games begin and many exciting twists and turns take place over the course of the book. The final fight scene is quite surprising to say the least. I won’t ruin it for those who have not read it yet; but I would definitely recommend reading this book. The Hunger Games is a wild ride which starts off, what should be, an amazing trilogy.
Read my review of Book two: Catching Fire here
Read my review of Book three: Mockingjay here