Meet Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year-old female who lives with her younger sister, Prim, and their mother. Katniss has had an unfortunately difficult life but she has made the best of it. She lives in District 12, the final district of Panem. It is the Coal producing district, and she lost her father, a coal miner, in a mine disaster, years earlier. Panem arose out of what remained of North America after natural and man-made disasters destroyed it. As with many post-apocalyptic tales, rebellions occurred against the powers-that-be, otherwise known as the Capitol. During the uprisings, District 12 was defeated and District 13 was destroyed.
In order for the 12 districts to always remember who holds the power, the Capitol began an annual event called The Hunger Games. Every year, each district produces one girl and one boy (ages 12 through 18, randomly drawn) to fight in the Games. The 24 tributes are taken to the Capitol and enjoy a short week of simple training, eating like kings, and attending events and interviews. Then, they are thrown into the vast outdoor arena to fight for their lives, as the Hunger Games has only one winner.
As you can probably guess, Katniss is the tribute for District 12, along with Peeta Mellark, the town baker's son. They are whisked away to the Capitol and treated like royalty. It becomes apparent that Katniss may stand a chance in the Games when she proves to the Gamemasters that she possesses great hunting skills. After all, she has been keeping her family from starvation for years by killing game and gathering vegetation (illegally) in the Seam of District 12.
While Katniss and Peeta are from the same District, it is no secret that they will eventually face one another as enemies. Peeta is very kind, but Katniss vows not to allow him to weasel his way into her heart. Peeta surprises her though, on many levels and in many ways, throughout the book. Does he eventually weasel his way in? Can he be trusted in such a dire situation?
The characters in this novel are very realistic as they sympathize with others and form alliances and friendships even though they face overwhelming odds. All 24 tributes have some sort of page time, some way more than others. The plot is high intensity, very dramatic, deeply emotional and completely engrossing! Katniss is courageous, intelligent, skilled, wily, and compassionate. Peeta is kind, loyal, and brave, but is not on an equal playing field with Katniss' skills. Peeta grew on me. I didn't have much draw towards him through much of the book, but he won me over at the #7 quote below.
The mutations of animals that you come across in this world are interesting, freaky and vile! The Capitol bio-engineered certain species for their own purposes - spying, physical damage, etc - and they play serious roles in this story. The mutants at the end of the book completely horrified me and I wonder if we will learn more about them.
There are a few twists at certain times in the books. One is very obvious, in my opinion, but the one at the end snuck up on me! It is an ugly twist that will make you gasp, and the outcome of that event sends us flying into the second book, Catching Fire.
Conclusion: 5 WHOLE STARS! What an entertaining and simultaneously disturbing novel! While the plot has been done before (The Game, Battle Royale), it does not take away from the emotional intensity you will find yourself feeling page after page! It is nothing short of fantastic. I have yet to speak to a book blogger who did not rave about this trilogy.show more
by Smash Attack