By the description, it sounds like the exact opposite of any book I would ever read: young adult, science fiction, futuristic, fantasy, action-packed, war-torn. Not one of those descriptions entices me to read a book. I suppose that's the reason I had so little interest in it, even though the blog world exploded with coverage of the trilogy -- and near went into panic mode waiting on the third installment to be released. Bloggers I trust and read regularly raved about it, one even decorated her Christmas tree with Hunger Games stuff (and staged a Hunger Games reenactment in her backyard), Hot Topic created a Hunger Games line, and there's an upcoming movie. Still, I resisted.
Finally, another teacher at my school read it and couldn't say enough about it. Her students read it and loved it, too. I decided I had to give it the "old college try"; I could always abandon it if I hated it. So... I didn't hate it. I loved it. It was fabulous. Life-changing, if you will. One of "those" books.
The Hunger Games trilogy begins sometime in the future. North America has been rebuilt as the country of Panem. It consists of a Capitol and 12 Districts, each with its own specific job to do. For example, District 1 creates luxury items; District 12 mines for coal; and so on. As a result of a rebellion and Civil War that occurred 75 years ago, the Capitol must remind Panem citizens that they are at the will of the government. To prove their power, the Capitol forces the Districts to engage in the Hunger Games each year. In the Hunger Games, each District draws two names -- a boy and a girl -- to act as tributes. Players are placed in an arena, and must fight to the death. The last survivor is the Game winner. Oh yes, and the entire event is broadcast, reality-television style, for all of Panem to watch.
Katniss, the book's main character, is thrown into the arena with tributes who dwarf her in both size and intent to win. However, coming from the tough District 12 and having a few tricks up her sleeve, Katniss proves that she has enough spunk to at least be in the running inside the arena. Collins throws in a love story in addition to all the battle scenes; Katniss is swooned over by Gale back at home and Peeta in the arena.
All that tells you exactly nothing about why The Hunger Games is so good. So here is my short list:
- Excellent writing
- Well-developed characters
- Interesting, unique, & creative premise
- Great story line
- Enough action, but so much more
- Detailed setting -- fictional, yet based on actual United States topography
- Strong female lead character
Chasing Fire and Mockingjay were also enjoyable for me, despite the backlash that followed the final book's release. More on that later!
Don't forget to return tomorrow for an interview with debut author Sara J. Henry from the blog Sara in Vermont. Her literary mystery Learning to Swim was released yesterday.