Monday, November 9, 2015

Hunger Games Book Review

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Teen Reviewer: Tim Bartlett
Rating: 4/5 stars

“May the odds be ever in your favor!” This is the famous quote of the notorious Hunger Games, used as punishment for a revolt of the thirteen districts of Panem, (formerly North America) in which one district was annihilated and the other twelve forced to submit under the iron fist of the Capitol. Existence is bleak, difficult, and dangerous.

This is the place that sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen finds herself in. The book is written in the first person, which is an interesting contrast to the third-person viewpoint of many other books. Katniss is an adventurous, spirited girl who mostly keeps to herself and finds solace in the woods of District 12. She's an excellent hunter and survival skills that won't just be used for food, for as events would turn out—it would be the key to life and death.

The finery and sophistication of the Capitol is a far cry from the hard and bleak existence that Katniss and Peeta find themselves in. If I was in their position, I would almost prefer a hard life rather than a brief time of luxury followed up by almost certain death. As their mentor, Haymitch is a perpetual drunk, but is the only victorious tribute from District 11 many years before. Despite his rather unsavory (and comedic) behaviors, Haymitch teaches the two teenagers how to stay alive in the arena.

After rigorous training with both weapons and survival skills, Katniss and Peeta officially enter the Hunger Games, against twenty-two other tributes. Strong, fast, cunning, and most with an insatiable desire to survive by killing everyone else. Katniss must use everything she's learned in the past several weeks if she's to have any hope of survival.

During the games, there is an announcement—if both the boy and girl from a district survive, they are champions. Katniss immediately starts searching for Peeta, and finds him camouflaged against a log, dying from wounds dealt by one of the Careers, teens who spend their time training for the Hunger Games in order to win honor and killing everyone else. Katniss nurses Peeta back to health, and the two of them fall in love. As the Games wind down, it's down to Katniss, Peeta, and Cato. Cato is slain, but Katniss and Peeta are champions...or so they thought. Suddenly, an announcement comes over the speakers, and Katniss and Peeta must make a choice, whether to conform to the government, or to defy their wishes.

The book was written by Suzanne Collins (born August 10th, 1962). She began her professional career in 1991 writing for children's television. Working with Nickelodeon, she helped produce shows such as Clarissa Explains it All and The Mysteries of Shelby Woo. For preschool viewers, she wrote multiple stories for Little Bear and Oswald. More recently, she was Head Writer for Scholastic Entertainment's Clifford Puppy Days, among other projects.

When she met children's author and illustrator James Proimos, he convinced her to give children's books a try. Suzanne thought about Alice and Wonderland one day, and realized how “pastoral” the setting must seem to kids who, like her own, lived in urban areas. For example, if you fell down a manhole in NYC, what would you find? That's the story of Gregor the Overlander, the first book in her five-part fantasy/war series, The Underland Chronicles, which became a New York Times bestseller and has been sold into 21 foreign territories.

Arguably her most famous work, The Hunger Games Trilogy, is an international bestseller and has spent over six years to date on The New York Times bestseller list since publication in 2008. It has been sold into 56 territories in 51 languages. In 2010 Collins was named to the TIME 100 list as well as the Entertainment Weekly Entertainers of the Year list. Lionsgate released a film adapation of The Hunger Games on March 23, 2012, directed by Gary Ross who also shared screenplay with Collins and Billy Ray. Breaking multiple box-office records, It went on the become the 14th highest-grossing North American release of all time—generating nearly $700 million at the worldwide box office. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 have been released on November 22nd, 2013 and November 21st 2014 respectively. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2 set to release on November 20, 2015.

In September 2013, Suzanne released a critically acclaimed autobiographical picture book, Year of the Jungle, illustrated by James Proimos, has been sold into 12 territories and in 11 languages. Overall, her books have sold over 87 million copies worldwide. Collins resides in Sandy Hook, Connecticut within Newtown, Connecticut, with her husband and their two children.

“The Hunger Games: would appeal to a mature teenage and young adult audience. Readers who enjoy action and suspense will appreciate the fast-paced narrative and suspenseful storyline, while those who enjoy romance and drama will enjoy the heartfelt decisions and love between Katniss and other characters in the story.

Personally, I enjoyed the action, and found the first-person narrative extremely interesting; because I'm used to reading books in the third-person. The book had a driving storyline, but was interesting and deep enough to extrapolate meaning from. I didn't particularly enjoy the gladiatorial aspect of the Hunger Games—and I thought the government was far too extreme in their punishment of the districts. However, it was an entertaining read, and I'd definitely recommend it.