Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

I've just finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It's been a while - since Deathly Hallows was released, actually - since I literally haven't been able to put a book down. I had to read it from 8 AM in bed till 2 PM and couldn't stop even when having lunch. I'm sure you all know the premise and are all aware of the raving reviews and all the buzz surrounding it, but just in case :

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When her sister is chosen by lottery, Katniss steps up to go in her place.

It's difficult to talk about this book without giving anything away. I cried and laughed before reaching page 20. It's a fast-paced, horrifying story with a strong heroine you can root for unreservedly. I was mesmerized, it's a great adventure novel with wonderful, well-fleshed characters. It's this great balance that makes everything work. It's a book that had me thinking about so many things in the world right now. I know I wanted to read the sequel (will be released in September) the minute I reached the end. Some twists were so original the whole time I was thinking "now if someone has something to say about that, this trick will silence him". The few times I wasn't quite sure about a characterization or a plot development, Collins introduced something else just afterwards that would make me feel stupid for even doubting it in the first place. I can see the political aspect of the story developing in the sequels as it got hinted at in the first volume, that would be terrific, it's got so much potential for being a great dystopia that says something relevant about today's society, The Hunger Games already had some of that. Spoilers :I can see Katniss, Gale and Peeta lead the revolution against the Capitol and bring it down - we'll learn more history about the 13th district. Reminds me of His Dark Materials. I hope we'll see more of Cinna, he was a great character and there's more to him than meets the eye, I think he could help them a great deal starting a new revolution. Same goes for Haymitch, although he isn't so obvious. I hope Katniss falls for Cinna actually, although I love both Gale and Peeta very much, it'd be nice if she could feel at home with somebody outside the triangle, and refreshing. Hope to see more cooperation between the districts, perhaps starting with Rue's district 11 since they know what Katniss did for their tribute.
Don't let Stephenie Meyer's recommendation scare you off it. It's really good storytelling and it deserves all the praise it got (and it got quite a lot).