Friday, April 16, 2010

Book Recommendation: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and its sequel Catching Fire are wildly popular books.  And for good reason.  Nevertheless I imagine there are still some people out there who haven't read them, or maybe haven't even heard of them, so if that's you, this post is for you.

Most good books are hard for me to put down, but The Hunger Games was even more of a page-turner than usual.  It's exciting, it's heart-wrenching, and it's nearly impossible to predict.  The twists keep coming, and each new reveal left me breathless.

Part of the excitement comes from the style.  The book is written in first person present tense, so we feel what Katniss—the main character—feels, and we experience things as she experiences them.  There's an immediacy to the telling of the story.

But mostly the excitement comes from the plot.  The Hunger Games are a yearly fight to the death between twenty-four people aged twelve to eighteen.  They are a tool that the futuristic Capitol uses to keep its districts in line.  The concept of the novel is not unique—it is very similar to the Japanese book Battle Royale, for example, and its roots go back as far as the Minotaur of Crete—but the characters and the details of the plot are compelling.

Katniss is an intriguing narrator.  I found her point of view to be a very comfortable one to follow.  She has a natural edge to her personality from having to fight for her survival on a daily basis even before the Hunger Games begin.  Yet she is not annoyingly abrasive, and her hard exterior covers a kind heart and absolute devotion to the people she loves.

Together the plot, the style and the characters build on each other to create a fantastic energy in this book.  I loved reading The Hunger Games, I loved Catching Fire just as much, and now I am very eagerly awaiting the final book, Mockingjay, which comes out at the end of summer.  Until then, “may the odds be ever in your favor.”

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