Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book 39 - The Hunger Games

I wasn't immediately sold on reading "The Hunger Games". I am one of those people who get turned off when something is too popular. However, having said that I do take into account the opinions of those that I value before making a final decision on something. I had heard only good things from those people and I was just waiting for the right time to dive into these books. I had started two books in the last month but neither really grabbed me. Also I am going through a transitional time at work and I also started going back to the gym, so I really needed a book that I knew I would enjoy and that would get me back on track and back on pace to finally finish my goal of 52 books in a year. So now here we are, back in love with reading and with 3 more books under my belt.

I will start with the first book and work my way from there. I am sure most people have read these, or seen the movie, but just in case you haven't then you really shouldn't be reading this, but if you are, then you might get spoiled, so consider yourself warned. 

The Hunger Games is set in an unspecified future time. There has been a large war and one of the punishments that is that one boy and one girl from each of 12 districts is selected by a drawing to enter the titular Hunger Games where they fight to the death and only one winner can prevail. 

Our protagonist is Katniss Everdeen of district 12. She volunteers to enter the games, be a tribute as they call it, in order to save her 12 year old sister who gets drawn on her very first year in the lottery. Her male counterpart is Peeta Mellark, a boy whom Katniss feels indebted to ever since he faced punishment in order to throw her a loaf of bread that he burned at his family's bakery. Katniss doesn't like to owe anyone anything, she is fiercely independent. Her father was killed in a mine accident and she has used her hunting skills to feed her family (even at her own peril as it is strictly illegal to do so). She generally goes hunting with her friend Gale Hawthorne, who lost his father in the same mining accident that claimed her own. There is some chemistry between the two, but Katniss is against the idea of love and marriage as she can't bear the thought of sending her own child into the games some day, not to mention that life in district 12 is no picnic on a day to day basis. 

Once the names are drawn, the tributes are given a brief amount of time to say goodbye to their loved ones and then they are off on a train to the capitol where they are put in a training center then eventually into the arena. As soon as they board the train, they are surrounded by luxuries and food the likes that they have never seen. Once they reach the capitol, they are put into a training center where they learn new skills and show off skills that they already have (not for some though, it is often a better strategy to keep some things to yourself). Katniss and Peeta have a mentor named Haymitch to help them, he is district 12's only winner ever  but he is not much help to them as he is constantly drunk. Likely the strain of mentoring tributes only to see them die year after year has taken its toll on him.

As training comes to a close, Katniss has managed to get the highest score of all the tributes due to her rebellious nature. All the the tributes are given stylists and then there is a grand entrance where the district 12 team really gets to show off as their stylist planned a big flourish for them, then again in an interview, both tributes manage to create a memorable show for the audience. This is very important as there are sponsors that can make the difference between life and death for them in the arena. The sponsors can pay to have supplies, water, medicine or really anything dropped into the arena with a little parachute (love this!). 

Then the time comes to enter the arena and it is a battle for survival right from the start. As you can imagine, many don't make it through the initial blood bath. Katniss has an advantage due to her time hunting and of course it wouldn't be likely that our narrator would die right away anyhow. The description of the time in the arena is riveting, imagine being hunted by your peers, and knowing that you can choose to make alliances but you might end up killing someone that you have grown to care for. 

I have said too much already about the plot, I wasn't planning to say much at all but here we are. I enjoyed this book immensely, even though it is technically a young adult novel I am not embarrassed to admit that I ate it right up. I was so hooked that I read the next two novels in a matter of days. Those reviews are coming right up.

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