Thursday, April 16, 2009
Finally!! The reading slump is officially over!! It took some time...and just the right books, but I finally feel like I've rounded that corner! And no, I'm not reading any more than I was before....I'm just BEHIND on my reviews!! The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (384 pgs, Scholastic Press, 2008) is a fantastic dystopian novel that I'm using not only as a selection for the YA Reading Challenge, but also for the End of the World Reading Challenge!! Me loves a good dystopian novel!!
When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth, but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. Today is the day of the reaping.
For 16-year-old Katniss (and yes, I really hate this name!) Everdeen, the day of the reaping is a day to dread. Panem, the country that was once North America before natural disasters and war laid waste to it, holds a "reaping" once a year. It is the Capitol's way of punishing the 12 districts of Panem for the "uprising". Each year, the 12 districts hold a drawing that will provide one girl Tribute and one boy Tribute to the Hunger Games. The 24 Tributes are taken to an arena and dropped off. Imprisoned together, it is ever child for him- or herself. There can only be one winner of the Hunger Games, and it is a fight to the death.
Each child between the ages of 12 and 18 is eligible for the reaping. District 12, The Seam, is the coal-mining district. They have only had one winner of the Hunger Games since it started. On the day of the reaping, all the kids are brought into the town square for a televised drawing. But this year, when Katniss' 12-year-old sister, Prim's name is drawn, there is a volunteer to take her place. Katniss is not going to let her sister go to be slaughtered. She immediately volunteers to go as the girl Tribute instead of Prim. Along with Peeta Mellark, the baker's son and the boy Tribute from District 12, Katniss is whisked away to the Capitol.
Because Katniss has spent the last few years providing for her family by hunting in the Seam, she feels she would have a better chance at survival than her little sister. Because frankly, being chosen for the reaping is a death sentence. Other districts have kids that are bred to be winners. But even if she can't survive, at least she has the knowledge that her little sister will be saved.
In a very Shirley Jackson sort of way, The Hunger Games is a glimpse into a terrifying future. In a world controlled completely by The Capitol, people live in fear of what can be taken from them. Even the games themselves are controlled by the Capitol. Each child can have sponsors that give them certain items to help them in the games. And if there isn't enough "action" to satisfy the powers that be, then the Capitol steps in and makes things more difficult for the contestants.
Collins has created a truly horrific look into the future. As a mother, the thought of such an events as the reaping or the Hunger Games makes me a little sick to my stomach. But as a reader and a lover of good fiction, this book is top-notch! Katniss is about as smart and as tough as a protagonist can be. I just fell in love with her. The Hunger Games starts out with a bang, but the suspense doesn't let up...ever! As a reader, you know there isn't going to be a good ending with this one, but Collins never lets you give up hope. From page one, you are immediately sucked in and just can't let go!! I practically read this in one sitting, it was so intense. I just needed to know what happens. Although there is clearly an ending....there is still more of the story to be told. Again, there is a follow-up book that won't be released till the fall. Damn. What is it with me and and the inevitable series reading?? Regardless of that, this is one intense read, and I highly recommend it!! 4.5/5