You know what this book is? Running Man…for teenagers…
“Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survived.”
So I know some of you are way too young to remember Running Man, so let me some up. It’s an old school Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where folks are subjected to run around a death obstacle course while people bet on who will win and die. Which…is kinda what is happening in the Hunger Games…
However, in this dystopian world, America is gone. All that is left is the ominous Capital and the twelve surrounding Districts. Our hero, Katniss Everdeen, is from the broken and despaired riddled District Twelve, where they mine for coal. Author Suzanne Collins makes sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen a hardened teenager who does what she has to do to survive, which means poaching and gathering beyond the Fence. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book. Katniss hunting in the woods is a good indicator of the type of person she will be and become throughout the book.
For me, the story rises and falls for me. Her time at the Capital feels like a lull in the book. But then again, all of that time was spent with preparation for the Hunger Games. But even though it was a lull in action, it was interesting to see the dramatic differences from the normal folks in the Districts and those in the Capital. To me it was a little over done with the body paint, crazy hair color, and body modifications, but it worked to show the extravagancy and power that the Capital holds over Panem.
What Collins does best is describe why the Hunger Games had to be. Once upon a time there were thirteen districts and when they rebelled against the Capital, the Capital squished them by decimating (such an amazing word) District 13 and developing the Hunger Games, taking the peoples children from the age of twelve to eighteen, one male and one female, and forcing them together in an arena of death to kill each other for the Capital’s amusement and to remind the people of the twelve district what happens when you rebel.
I loved this book. I really did. I was impressed by how well written it was. It made me forget from time to time that I was reading a young adult book. However, I feel that there is a formula that all YA books seem to go by: pretty girl who doesn’t know she’s pretty, the sweet and lovable hero that the pretty girl has mixed emotions for, and the other guy that the pretty girl just can’t get out of her mind. However, this typical YA formula was softened by the violence of the Hunger Games. I was really kind of impressed.
I got to the end of the book and felt that there really was no real ending. I know there are a few people left out in the world who have not read this book, so I will not be offering up any spoilers. But talking about an non-climactic ending. I mean, I get it, we have to be left hanging so there can be a second book, but I feel that the book just kinda peters out and says “Yeah, I’m kinda sleepy. Gonna take a nap.”
This book offered a lot for someone who, as of late, is sullen and jaded about whatever books might come my way. So thanks Suzanne Collins for writing a book is unique in a genre of YA dystopians that seem to litter the book market.