Wow! I usually disagree with hype around a lot of newly-published books, but The Hunger Games definitely lived up to its reputation. From the first page to the last, I could barely put the book down. I finished reading it in three nights...three very long nights during which I stayed up until 3:00 am just so I could read some more.
While The Hunger Games was clearly a dystopian novel, Panem, the country that exists in place of North America, is not home to the mindless, submissive people that are the staple of many dystopian plots. Instead, from the beginning, the reader feels that there is a sense of unease throughout the society because of the Hunger Games. The Games are an annual event in which two tributes (participants) from each of the 12 Districts of Panem, battle each other in a large arena until only one of the 24 teens is left alive; they are, in turn, declared the victor. The Hunger Games follows Katniss, one of the tributes from District 12, as she struggles to understand the Games, herself, and her future.
For those who have read the Pendragon series, The Hunger Games is very similar to the seventh book, The Quillan Games. Both involve unwilling competitors who must fight for their own survival in a game designed to end in death. Both societies- Panem and Quillan- are futuristic communities in which these Games have risen to a level of national importance. The competitors are treated with the upmost importance before the games and afterwards (if they survive); citizens bet on the competitors they think will fare the best; in the midst of these Games, the competitors being followed realize that there is unease in the society and they must do their part in stopping it, one way or another. If you enjoyed The Quillan Games, you will absolutely love The Hunger Games.
Suzanne Collins has included many twists in the plot that will surprise even the most keen reader. Of course I'm not going to reveal any here, but rest assured that The Hunger Games will not disappoint you. The characters are developed very well, and through their struggles and triumphs, the reader can not help but become deeply attached to many of them. Collins is able to draw the reader into the actual emotion that the tributes' families must be feeling during the Hunger Games. In that way, the deaths become actually upsetting; more than a character in a book just not being there any more, Katniss' sadness and anger becomes the sadness and anger of the reader as well.
This book is written in first person from Katniss' point of view. While this may be shocking at first, it really allows you to get inside Katniss' head and experience everything she does as she travels from District 12 to the Capitol and participates in the 74th annual Hunger Games. I have to say that although I normally don't like reading things written in first person, the extra sense of emotion that comes with it definitely serves its purpose in The Hunger Games. Any other technique used to tell the story would not portray it in such a personal way.
I am already reading the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire, so expect a review of that very soon!