Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: The Hunger Games

Get a few fragments of Battle Royale and some from Survivor, weave them together, throw in a storyline that will keep you at the edge of your seat, add three-dimensional characters, a dash of drama, suspense, romance—and voila! You just have one awe-inspiring YA novel in your hand: The Hunger Games.



The Hunger Games
is the story of Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old girl living with her mother and little sister in the 12th district of Panem, the remains of what used to be the North America. There was a rebellion a long time ago waged by the districts against the Capitol, but it did not become successful. The surrender terms require each district to send a boy and a girl tribute to a televised event called “the Hunger Games”, where all participants should kill one another until there is one survivor left. Katniss took the place of her younger sister in the games, and on she goes to the arena, fighting for survival not only for herself but also for the people she loves the most.

One thing about The Hunger Games: it lives up to all the hype.

I’ve never been this engrossed to a dystopian young adult novel before.  I always make it a point to be really careful before jumping to a certain bandwagon because I don’t want to be disappointed—I ask people who I trust to have sound judgment when it comes to literature, I read blurbs and reviews, listen to discussions about the book. I’m more than glad I gave The Hunger Games a try.

What I really liked about this story is that I did not catch myself yawning in ennui while reading the parts that do not have much action in them. Sure, the book is chock-full with a lot of suspenseful moments, but there are some rooms in the book that are definitely left uncharted by the author to let the characters grow, in a way that is never boring in the eyes of the reader.

With that said, I can say the book’s also teeming with characters that are sure to leave some kind of dent in your heart. I really admire how Collins molded the main characters: Katniss is this cynical but utterly determined girl, possessing a rather amusing case of candor and foibles. Peeta—Katniss’ co-tribute in the Games—is a kind, charismatic but a tad reticent young boy. I find it droll how Katniss seems to be so naïve about Peeta’s not-so-secret feelings for her; the readers will easily figure out that Peeta is not faking it. I have to admit it’s an endearing trait of our heroine, one that distinguishes her more from cliché protagonists of novels like this. I may even say it gives more depth to her role—anyone out there who heard how Katniss formulate her introspections will understand this.

As for relationship development, it is excellent. Collins takes her time building all the little bridges to create the connection, the relationship...it tags along the rhythm of the story's pace. There’s nothing too cloying or sappy, just enough to make a reader unconsciously raise a hand to push against his heart. It is intricately structured, much more of a foundation for something bigger. I’ll wait for Catching Fire and Mockingjay to confirm that.

Also, I thought Collins did a good job in shaping the brutal reality behind the televised event, because, well, that's what happens in real life. Romance does sell to huge audiences, that’s why there are so many “fake loveteams” in almost every reality show nowadays. Katniss, being the wise skeptic that she is, “plays along” with what she thinks is Peeta’s strategy to get more sponsors. My heart goes to Peeta. Poor boy.

Anyway, I loved this story to bits. Four out of five stars from me!
See you soon, Catching Fire! :D

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