I stumbled upon this author via her series for 12 year old children. I fell in love with her genius then. And then, of course, The Hunger Games got very popular very fast. I already loved the author and had been intending to read this series, so I bit the bullet and bought the three books together to be delivered together.
Suzanne Collins did NOT disappoint.
I think the thing I loved best about The Hunger Games is how I was immediately put in mind of Ancient Greece in the middle of post-apocalyptic America. The sick demand for tributes, being trapped in the arena with no way out, the government’s control. These shades of the Theseus legend were enough to delve me straight into the material. It was wonderful. But, by the end of the book, if I were to pick someone to kill the Minotaur, it would not have been the Prince of Athens. He is a supreme wimp compared to these tributes. He used a string and false promises of love to beat the Minotaur. Tributes in The Hunger Games actually have to kill each other to survive. They are all Theseus and the Minotaur in one.
For those of you who don’t know the book, The Hunger Games is set in post-apocalyptic America. Something happened and we collapsed in on ourselves. In the meantime, the country has been split into the Districts and the Capitol. There has been an uprising. There has been a war. A District was destroyed. They were forced into a very Big Brother-like system of government (I assume at least as bad as before the war) and on top of the conditions in the Districts and the invasive government, each District is required to send two tributes–one boy, one girl–to the Hunger Games every year. These tributes can’t be just anybody, though. They’re children between the ages of twelve and eighteen. It is sickening. These children are then forced to become murderers on national television to prove a point. Nothing more, nothing less. The survivor/winner gets fame and fortune while the others around them starve.
Katniss, the main character, is in a particularly bad District: 12. Twelve mines all the coal and is located in the Appalachians. (One of the nice things about Collins, she give good details, so I have a fairly clear maps of where everything should be. One of the bad things, she doesn’t share HER map, which makes me just want to figure things out more). The people have been crushed in spirit systematically. There are some wealthy-ish Districts. Twelve is not one. Yet somehow, they were able to raise an incredibly intelligent and talented young woman in Katniss. She has not been crushed. Thankfully for her, she’s also good at killing. She’s a perfect candidate for the Games. I won’t tell you what gets her there, because the moment is pretty beautiful and I’d hate to ruin it.
As for the writing, aside from the incredibly engaging story, I love it. Suzanne Collins will tear your heart out and make it feel good. She does not do happy, fair warning. If you need your happy endings, do not read this series. Her actions scenes are intense. The choice for first-person pov was an interesting one, but I like it because it makes the Games more real. If we were dealing with an omniscient narrator, the immediacy of being in an arena would have been non-existence. I highly recommend this series, and not just because I think Suzanne Collins is one of the best YA and SciFi writers out there right now. I’ve loved these books since I read them. They made me think, just stare at the wall because it’s there and it’s a good book that can hang around after I finished. I have very little higher praise than that.
Next week, book two!