"Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. The Hunger Games have begun."
These books have been recommended all over the place, forever. Becky did a Writer's Wednesday post on them and Googling them brings up a butt load of other rec's and reviews. If you do Google them, beware of spoilers, please.
The Hunger Games is the first book in The Hunger Games Trilogy, followed by Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I've been meaning to read them for a while but was putting it off until I'd finished the mystery series I'm reading on Murdock but then one of my co-worker's received a hard cover set of the trilogy for Christmas and loaned them to me. I read the books in two days, which, even given my typical reading speed, should tell you how much I enjoyed these books.
They are Young Adult and you should keep that in mind. The writing is good but it's not *excellent*. What really draws you through is the story. It's good enough to make you forget that it's YA and it's a fairly good treatment of some very heavy themes.
The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future where America, and presumably the rest of the world, has destroyed itself. America has been replaced by a nation called Panem, a confederation of 12 Districts under the control of the Capitol. There used to be 13 Districts but the Districts rebelled 74 years before the beginning of this book. The thirteenth District was utterly destroyed, the remaining twelve defeated and enslaved by the Capitol.
"Happy Hunger Games and may the odds be ever in your favor."
In order to prevent any future rebellions the Capitol puts on the Hunger Games once each year. Two children, one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18 from each District are selected by lottery to participate. The twenty-four Tributes are taken to the Capitol, dressed up, paraded around and then dropped into an Arena where they fight to the death until there is only one left. The victor of the Hunger Games is set for life. They have food, comfort and pretty much anything that they could desire while the rest of the people of the Districts starve and slave away for the Capitol.
“What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by? What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment?”
Katniss Everdeen is from District 12, a strong hunter (which is outlawed) and the backbone of her family. Her father was killed in a mine explosion when she was 11, leaving her to find a way to keep her mother, her younger sister Primrose and herself alive. When Prim is chosen as Tribute from District 12, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Along with a boy named Peeta Mellark, who once saved her life right after her father was killed, she is taken to the Capitol to fight.
The first book is all about their struggle for survival in the arena. It's brutal, especially if you have a good imagination. The author doesn't dwell over every single death but the plain fact is that these are children, starving and desperate, taken from their homes and their families. Trained to fight and survive, then thrown into an arena designed to kill them or force them to kill. Their only way out is to kill. Some of the winners from previous Hunger Games have gone mad. There's at least one recorded instance of cannibalism within the Game. It's just as ugly as it should be.
These books suck you in. The world is so desperate, so ugly and still so filled with beautiful things, with people who are willing to fight for one another and sacrifice for the people that they love. It's wonderful, truly.
And I should warn you, I did a lot of crying towards the end of the last book. I spent most of the series going like this: O.O and screaming at characters in my head.
Also, I went to sleep one night in the middle of Catching Fire (because I just *had* to sleep at some point), thinking: 'Can't sleep, President Snow will get me.' which may only be funny to me. :)
Rating: All the stars! Realistically, let's go with a 4.75/5. Because no book is perfect.
And now, the trailer for the movie! Yes, I am going to see it when it comes out. I may even go to a midnight showing. Because it's just that wonderful.