bookspluslife

August 18, 2013

Book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:49 am

imagesThe story is interesting indeed and the first book is really good to read until you realize that the tone is that of a children’s book or at best a teenage story section. The story is narrated by Katniss Everdeen. The story takes place in a future time where the world is ruled by a council from the Capital. The world (or the known part of it, or the surviving part of it) is divided into Twelve Districts. They are subjugated by Capital and is governed by the Mayor who rules with an iron hand. In fact, originally there were thirteen districts but they all rebelled against the imposed tyranny and were ruthlessly suppressed and District Thirteen was completely destroyed. Each district was given a speciality. District 8, where our star Katniss lives is dedicated to mining.

Also to keep the rebellion in check, there is a reaping from each district. All names are kept in a hat, and the two names drawn out of the hat (always one boy and one girl – have to be young – I think a teen) are sent to the Hunger Games, where they battle it out, literally hunting each other and the perils set by the Game Makers of the capital for all of the world’s entertainment, until only one emerges victorious. Being chosen in the reaping is equal to a fairly certain death sentence.

What makes it more interesting is that people are not given enough food and are always hungry. You can request extra food if you are at an age eligible for reaping  but every time you do so, one more instance of your name is added to the hat so you are that much more likely to be picked for the Hunger Games.

Katniss survives by her wits. Ever since her father was blown up in a mine accident, her mom sort of withdrew from the world and became incapable of managing anything so Katniss bears the burden of bringing up her younger sister Prim. Gale is her only friend and they go out of the allowed perimeter wire illegally and hunt animals to supplement their food (and money, since she can sell them at the black market).

When the reaping occurs, Kat is stunned to find Prim selected. Using a loophole, Kat volunteers to replace Prim. The other person chosen is Peeta Mellark, who is the baker’s son and who was kind to her once by giving her a bread  (illegally) and getting punished for it by his family. Since Kat was starving and near death, this makes a deep impression on Kat. Effie Trinket is the impossibly chirpy ‘selector’ for games who seems totally clueless of the cruelty in the name of the game and is thrilled to have Kat and Peeta represent the district in the games.

She goes to the Capital and meets President Snow, the cruel and evil dictator who masterminds the game. She also meets the genius designer Cinna, his makeup team, the boys and girls who transgressed the strict rules in the district and paid the price by becoming mute slaves (tongue removed) serving the competitors hand and foot.

Before she leaves for the Games, Madge, the mayor’s daughter, gives her a Mockingjay pin as a token of friendship.

She meets the other competitors, including Rue, a young girl from Sector 9. The televising of the preparations to the show and the show itself is by the incomparable Cesar Flickerman.

The trainer for Kat is the only other winner ever from Sector 8, called Haymitch, who seems drunk all the time. However, he gives good advise when needed. He warns her not to go to the weapons once the game starts, as the massacre happens there.

In the interview with the sponsors before the games, Kat gets their shocked attention when she shoots an arrow into the gallery, precisely but not hurting anyone. She is shocked when that move gets her a high rating.

In the games, Kat is stunned to see Peeta cooperate with the Sector 1 & 2 group, and apparently wants to kill Kat and others. But she outwits them by using a Trackerjacket bee nest and kills many of them.

Rue makes an alliance with Kat but is killed by Marvel from District 1 who in turn is  killed by Katniss. Kat is so sad at Rue’s death that she defies orders by not only staying with Rue for a while but also decorating her body with flowers.

Cato stays till the end and is very clever and difficult to dislodge. Others are killed slowly, and Kat, in a brilliant move, destroys their food supply in order to weaken the others.

One of the Careers, Foxface, eats some berries that Kat had collected and dies, making Kat realize that they are poisoned.

The story is told in a racy style, with a cliffhanger at the end of most chapters (a la Dan Brown) but the story itself is very different from those stories. At the end, allied with Peeta after she senses his true intentions, she realizes that only Peeta and she survive and now she has to kill Peeta to win the whole games. How she solves the problem, earning the wrath of the sponsors and their grudging capitulation, is an interesting twist at the end.

 

The story says Peeta loses a limb, but I do not remember seeing it in the story!

 

A good story but without depth in it. When you finish, you get the feeling of having finshed a good story but a teen story, told in a lightweight style, purely to entertain but not to make you think.

I would say a 6/10

 

— Krishna

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