This book is as good as everyone tells you.
In a world where poverty and social depression widely spread is, Katniss grows up trying keep her little sister and mother from starving by hunting in the dangerous woods nearby. When her little sister is called to play in the Hunger Games, Katniss tries to protect her and goes in her place. Now she has to kill twenty-three kids in an arena before she can go home...
When The Hunger Games suddenly became extremely popular, I though to myself, this probably is just another Twilight. Don't throw stones at me, but for me Twilight wasn't as absolutely awesome as everyone seemed to think. A nice read, but I could've lived without it. So I put off reading The Hunger Games, thinking it was nothing special really. Then one day an extremely kind person gifted this book to me.
And it turns out, The Hunger Games is so extremely awesome.
In my little bubble where I shun everything that is popular and trendy, I never even knew what this story was about. I didn't know this was about kids killing each other in an arena in order to survive. If I'd known that I would have picked this book up earlier!
The first thing I fell in love with is the world. I have a little soft spot in my heart for dark settings. For the hopelessness, the gritty life where you have to fight to stay alive, to even have enough food to get through the day. And I think that in The Hunger Games, this is portrayed beautifully. It feels realistic. Everyone in District 12 knows they are being wronged. Yet no one sits around wallowing in self-pity. They life their life as good as they can, quietly hoping one day things will change.
At first sight it might seem strange that teens of ages between twelve and eighteen are willing to kill each other. You have to take into account that they have a wholly different upbringing and live in a way more violent world than we do, though. They grow up seeing these Games on the TV, year after year. They see other children brutally killed, and see all these relentless killers crowned as heroes. I think this can turn innocent teens into monsters that will do everything to win The Hunger Games, and come home as victor. Tributes like Katniss, however, are completely different. She fights only to survive. Winning isn't really her goal. She just wants to be able to return to her sister and mother, so she can take care of them again.
Katniss is a great character. She is strong, smart, and independent. She is hardened by the circumstances she lives in day after day, yet she is compassionate towards the people she cares for. There was a beautiful moment when one certain person dies in the arena (telling you who would be a spoiler). At times I did want to scream at her for not seeing certain things. She's not that good in the romantic compartment. That does fit her though. She has never had the time to think about boys. I hope this changes throughout the next books. I would like to see her a bit more confident in that area.
What I did not like is that I'm seeing the start of a love triangle here. I seem to be the only person in the whole wide world that does not enjoy these horrible devises to create tension between the characters. Nine out of ten people I know just fall in love with one person, and stick to that person. In books it seems to be the rule to like two different guys at the same time, who are usually complete opposites of each other. I don't know, it doesn't seem that realistic to me. I'm sure it can happen. But not to every single girl/woman starring in a book with a romantic (sub)plot.
Anyway, I hope the rest of the trilogy doesn't heavily rely on the Gale/Peeta choice, because I think that would be a shame. The Hunger Games is wonderfully fast paced, with very well written action scenes, that are clear and easy to follow, while being thrilling at the same time.
I think it's a smart move to make a film adaptation of The Hunger Games, and not only because its popularity. The book is written for the white screen. It's fast paced enough, with a lot of action that works really well in a film. I'm especially looking forward to the film image of District 12 and the Capital. I would love to see how they portray these places.
In a way, The Hunger Games does resemble Twilight. It does to dystopian novels what Twilight did for paranormal romance books. It makes the genre accessible to the general public. I think we will see a lot of dystopian novels this year.
If you haven't read The Hunger Games, do it. This book is totally worth your time.