Published: September 14, 2008
Publisher: Scholastic Press
“But the Hunger Games are their weapon and you are not supposed to be able to defeat it.”
Winning means fame and fortune.
Losing means certain death.
The Hunger Games have begun…
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 once 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 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.
There are a lot of great dystopian novels that are considered a classic even before 2008. However, The Hunger Games is the book that put that genre on the map for me. Everyone who has been in the book community back in the days that it has made a buzz would know that it has become the beginning of a new era – the golden age of dystopian.
After that era, many books have come out in that genre in the past year, or so and yet it felt different. So what makes this book special? What is in this book that made a buzz to people back then and until now that it was already considered as a classic YA Dystopian?
This is my 4th or 5th time rereading this book and the story still feels relevant up to this day. I remember reading this book back then and imagining myself in the shoes of the main character. 16-year-old me was terrified. Getting thrust into a world where children are used to pay the debts of the previous generation and not only that, killing another kid just to be alive. That is the best aspect of this book for me. It shows you the length of how far people at power will go just to maintain their control over others no matter how cruel it might be. The whole concept of the plot was horrifying at best for it does not look too out of reach.
The concept of the actual Games does not sound impossible which makes the book more intriguing. It’s like Survivor but instead of voting out, you are killing your competitors. And the craziest thing about the Games is that the participants are kids. Not only that, but the whole thing was also broadcasted in the whole country. It was gruesome and imagine the traumas that it might give to younger children whose name was not yet entered for the Games. Plus, there are Gamemakers who could manipulate the flow of the Games and create calamities or have vicious animals appeared just so the audience would not get bored.
What I like about this book – and probably the same with other dystopian novels as well during this time – is how deep the politics is in the story and yet it does not have the plot twist of secrets, lies, and betrayal.
(I don’t know if it’s just me but the betrayal and not knowing who to trust is too overused now in the newer YA Dystopian.) In this book, you can feel the unity of the people and you can distinguish who the enemy is. However, we do not really have a face for our villain yet, it’s only the Capitol, the President, and the Games. Most of the politics that we can see here are in reference to surviving the Games; how to get a sponsor, the advantages of the other kids living in a wealthier district, and the rules of the Gamemakers. Although there are times where we could have a glimpse of their life outside the Games and you can feel the injustice of it all.
The main character, Katniss Everdeen, is one of my favorite characters ever. She is not perfect but she is human. She is a teenager whose instinct is to keep her little sister alive and who was just trying to stay alive in the Games. She is one of those stubborn characters that some may not like and she is hotheaded at times. But throughout the Games, you can still see the kid in her. You see that underneath all her tough exterior, she cares deeply about the people around her.
As for the other characters, Peeta and Gale, we have quite a debate with that one. Peeta’s actions during the Games was a bit questionable for me still at the end of this book. I did not fully understand his strategy and how it was justifiable towards the end. I think that’s something that has been overshadowed by the romance. As for Gale, though he is not fully present in the whole book, has also become an important figure in this book. You can see how much connection he has with Katniss with her flashbacks of the time she spends at home. Their friendship was deeper than any other. He is her best friend and through it all, you can see the times when Katniss would think of him and there is a hint of probably more than friendship in their relationship.
Now let’s get to the most debatable topic of all time for this book, the romance. The love triangle in this whole trilogy has been debatable as some would say that there really is no love triangle or the love triangle feels forced. As for me, there is indeed a love triangle. During this reread, I feel like I have thoroughly read the book compared to the last time that I have read it. There are a lot of lines and scenes that would hint something more between Katniss and Gale. And it might have felt forced to some, but to people like me who somehow relate with the sentiment, I could not see how it was forced. If we are talking about forced romance, that’s Peeta and Katniss for you. And you could see that in the whole book. The sudden connection of Katniss to Peeta was a bit questionable as it only happens in a short time during the Games and I think that is for the whole trilogy as well. However, Peeta’s feeling to Katniss is another story.
I don’t want to talk about the actual plot that much because it was fun to know nothing and be surprised by the turn of events. And I tried my hardest to not let my emotions get into this review and just gush about how much I love this, but I really love this. So if you have not read this book, go pick it up now.
That is all for this review. And a happy book birthday to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.🎉🎈🎁🎂
Until next time!