January 19, 2009

Kill. Or, Be Killed. Reality TV...

This book is a 2008 Cybils Finalist for Fantasy and Science Fiction.

I have to admit that this book whacked me upside the head. The premise isn't really original, but the writing is excellent, the characterization is deft, and the action is non-stop.

The story is straightforward: The Capitol runs the Districts, 1-12. Previously, there was a District 13, but they rebelled, and were utterly destroyed. The Hunger Games are... more punishment for that rebellion, and a reminder that the Capitol sees all, knows all, and could destroy everything and everyone at any time. The creepy panopticon feel really works.

From each district are chosen two children -- one boy, one girl -- as tribute to the Capitol.

They're put into an arena -- maybe in the desert, maybe in the woods, maybe in the snow... and made to fight for their lives. No rules. No mercy.
It's TELEVISED, and viewing is REQUIRED.
Last one standing is the winner of the Hunger Games.

And a murderer, of course.

In District 12, the people are coal miners. Katniss is 16, and from Panem, which is in the Seam -- the lowest, poorest and most desperate area of any district. Katniss' little sister, Prim, and her mother area all she has left. She is the hunter she became when her father was killed in a mine explosion when she was eleven, and her mother had a nervous breakdown and ...mentally abandoned them for a time. Katniss is a survivor. She goes outside the electric fence which rings the district and hunts for game and roots to keep the family alive. She trusts very few and smiles for no one but her precious woodlands and her friend Gale, who is his family's provider as well.

It's just another reaping, which is the name for the annual selection of children for the Hunger Games, but when Prim is chosen -- Prim who is tiny and only twelve -- Katniss jumps in. She volunteers to go in her sister's place.

The boy from her district she's never spoken to, but there's a problem already:
Katniss cannot kill him. She owes him too much. Her very life.

But there can be only one winner.
And the Capitol is watching...

The creepy feel of always being watched, the physical stress of the arena -- comes through to the reader clearly. The UK paperback version allows you to fold the cover so that your favorite character appears on the front. The end of the novel isn't really the end -- be warned! Read slowly and savor the book so you'll be ready for the sequel!

Buy THE HUNGER GAMES from an independent bookstore near you!


Alexa said...

Oh I loved this book too, it was so gripping and exciting. I had no idea it wasn't the end till I got to the end, can't believe we have to wait till September to find out what happens next.

Justina said...

What a pageturner! I totally agree. From the premise to the writing, this is one that will keep the most reluctant of readers up late into the night.

adrienne said...

Oooo, this one's in my pile!

Elizabeth P said...

Wow, this sounds like a great read and an intense page turner. I agree that the idea doesn't seem that original but the characters seem interesting. I want to read it just to learn more about them!