Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Hunger Games

Lest it be said I never read mainstream pop novels, I just breezed through Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games.  It happened rather by accident - facing a four-hour delay on my way to New Haven, I simply couldn't imagine bellying up to the bar with my multi-generational Saharan Desert saga.  So, Hunger Games.

I definitely enjoyed it.  Highbrow, complex literature it was not, but it's fun.  If you're not already familiar, the story tells of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who claims only one of the totally lame names in the book.  The Capitol of dystopian Panem, a nation that has grown up where the U.S. of A. once was, keeps control of its twelve outlying districts by forcing them to compete in an annual event.  The names of a teenage boy and girl from each District are picked at random, kids who have been selected to represent their districts in a highly staged battle to the death.  Only one of the twenty-four comes out alive.

So Katniss' younger sister's name gets pulled, and Katniss volunteers to take her place.  She rightfully assumes she'll be better suited to this competition, given she's been hunting illegally in the outlying woods to feed her mother and sister since her father was killed some years prior.  Katniss and Peeta Mellark, the (also unfortunately named) District 12 boy, are then hauled off to the Capitol with their mentor (a prior year's winner) and a team of stylists. 

The world inside the Hunger Games arena - and the governmental machinations behind the scenes that made it all possible - are enjoyable and thought out.  The book's well paced, there's plenty of action and it's rather less gruesome than it could be.  The whole romance thing - a contrived triangle between Katniss, Peeta and a guy named Gale - I could have lived without. 

Next up: Despite the impression I have that the romance nonsense will dominate, I'm going to burn through The Hunger Games: Catching Fire next.  And if that doesn't make me too nauseous, I'll probably read Mockingjay right after that.

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