Rating: 5 out of 5
I know that I may be late on the bandwagon, given that Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games was published in 2008, but since the film isn't going to be released until March 23, 2012, I figured better late than never, right?
And boy, I was not disappointed. Usually, I can sense a bestseller right away: I read the Twilight saga over four years ago after hearing all the buzz, and I recommended it to my friends way before the first movie came out. Now, I'm not here to compare the two series in depth, because I haven't read Collins' sequels yet, but looking at the first novels of each series, I would say that The Hunger Games trumps Twilight in terms of writing prowess and originality, but Twilight still wins in the romance department (since Gale wasn't physically present in The Hunger Games to make a true love triangle). But unless the next two books, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, suck as hard as Breaking Dawn, I tentatively award The Hunger Games trilogy the winner of recent YA bestsellers.
But enough of vampires and werewolves. Time to talk about Panem, the post-apocalyptic North America that is broken up into 12 districts (the 13th being completely destroyed during a past uprising). In order to keep the common folk down, the Capitol has created the Hunger Games, an annual event which requires a boy and girl (ages 12-18) from each of the 12 districts to fight to the death on live television. The protagonist, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, volunteers to take her 12-year-old sister Prim's place as the tribute from District 12. The baker's son Peeta Mellark is also chosen, and the novel follows their struggle to stay alive in an arena where if the other children don't kill you, starvation, killer wasps, and other surprises will.
Greek myth lovers will notice the resemblance to the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, which inspired Collins--as well as the author's channel-surfing between a reality competition and footage of the Iraq War. Both inspirations are highlighted, as fantasy, rivalry, and violence merge. I was as grossly captivated by the Games as the citizens of Panem were, and I felt the same mixed feelings of victory and guilt as Katniss did whenever another tribute died. The writing is suspenseful, the scenes action-packed, and the message powerful and haunting.
I have very few complaints, other than the pacing was slow at times and some of the tributes' deaths were anti-climatic. Overall, though, it was an excellent read and worthy of all its fame. Now I'm like every other fan and putting a lot of faith in the movie, which as of now, the cast and alleged PG-13 rating are making me nervous. The kids were dirty and emaciated, and the fights were brutal, and I would hate it if a bunch of Hollywood heart-throbs watered down this gritty story.
I'd love to start reading Catching Fire right now, but I have to pack for a much-needed beach vacation! I won't be blogging over the weekend, but if you've read The Hunger Games, let me know what you thought of it, and you haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet, it's not too late! With Harry Potter finished and Twilight coming to an end, this series will be the next big thing--trust me!