In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before – and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
I was completely enthralled with this book and somehow managed to finish it in one sitting. I’ve heard several people say they think it started off too slow, but honestly the only pages that were mildly dull in my opinion were the first ten or so pages. You aren’t necessarily going to get action starting on page one, people! I digress.
The Hunger Games is an annual contest where one boy and one girl between the ages of 12-18 are picked from each district to fight to the death in a monitored, man-made arena. The Games were created in the wake of the districts attempt to rebel against the Capitol, and now serve as a yearly reminder that the districts are at the mercy of the Capitol. Katniss volunteers to take her younger sister’s place as tribute, and is sent into the Games alongside Peeta Mellark, the district 12 baker’s son. The tributes are whisked away to the Capitol where they are groomed to look flawless, and put through training to handle the arena. You get to learn more about some of the other tributes, mainly “The Careers”, which are tributes from districts 1 & 2 who start training for the games as soon as they can walk. It’s an honor to go in the arena for them, because most of the time, they end up with a victor. District 12 is the poorest district with many people not even able to afford food, let alone have the resources to athletically train for the arena. The always drunk Haymitch Abernathy, who is district 12’s only victor, serves as Katniss and Peeta’s mentor, and in an attempt to gain sponsors (who send gifts, food, etc. to tribute in the arena) advises the two of them play star-crossed lovers. I was rooting for the Katniss/Peeta romance from the very beginning, and it is extremely well written.
The action in the arena constantly keeps you on your toes, the alliances that are formed will touch you and shock you, and you’ll have your hopes lifted and dashed through a couple major game changers. Oh my gosh, and the ending…I don’t even know what to say! It’s just great. It does leave a bit unanswered, which didn’t surprise me considering it was only the first book in the trilogy.
I absolutely loved this book and would highly recommend it. The whole trilogy is spectacular and I look forward to reading more of Suzanne Collins’s work in the future.