“You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope.”
For those few who have been hiding under a rather big rock lately, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is now a pretty big deal. The film is (so far) the biggest release of 2012. And amazingly, the adaptation is pretty much as damn near perfect as you could hope for. But as someone who had never read the book, I decided to give it a go.
A few hours later and I was finished.
Now, the book may be quite short but still… It gripped me tight and wouldn’t let go until I turned the last page. Considering I ultimately knew what was going to happen from seeing the film, this is even more of an achievement.
For anyone still not sure of the plot – the novel is set in a post apocalyptic future America, renamed Panem. It is made of 12 Districts, and the oppressive Capitol. Every year the Capitol hosts what they have named ‘The Hunger Games’. From each of the 12 outlying districts a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen at random, with all 24 being pitted in a fight to the death on national television with only one winner. The novel follows a member of District 12, Katniss Everdeen who must learn how to fight and survive (physically and politically) if she is to win The Hunger Games.
If I’m being honest, (and a bit snobbish) I really wasn’t expecting much from The Hunger Games. A young adult fantasy? Pah. But boy was I wrong.
The book moves at such a pace that to look up from the pages would give you whiplash. The prose is short and precise, with Katniss a constantly surprising narrator. The cliched teenage girl with daddy issues she is not. The book exists in a well conceived post-apocalyptic America, where you really feel a connection. The side characters are constantly entertaining, with the distinctly totalitatrian oppressors in the capitol having a real sinister bite. One senses a certain parallel with the French Revolution, and with this being the Hunger Games I am almost expecting the line ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ at some point.
A really accomplished novel for anyone who can handle the dark undertones and violent situations it puts to the fore. Bring on book 2: Catching Fire.
May the odds be ever in your favor!