I haven’t been unable to put a book down for a while. This might seem shocking to many of you, but I’ve always been a fast reader and often finish books in one or two sittings (the most notable of which being nearly every Harry Potter book). Lately, though, I’ve read a little of a book and put it down, only to pick it up a week or a month later. Even the infamous Game of Thrones that kept my boyfriend up for many a late night didn’t hold my attention (I still have yet to finish it).
I could NOT put The Hunger Games down.
It wasn’t just that the protagonist was a wonderfully written young woman with courage that I can only dream of. It wasn’t that the society of Panem was wonderfully weird and an interesting statement on society. It wasn’t the fighting to the death and it wasn’t the love story.
It was everything.
I can certainly see why The Hunger Games is incredibly popular right now. To start with, Katniss is an amazing protagonist with courage that few people have. She sacrifices herself (pretty much literally) to save her younger sister without really thinking of the implications. She handles most of the situations she’s faced with in the Capitol with courage and grace. And she overcomes so very much in the Games themselves.
Katniss is faced with a problem that many young adult readers are not, although I think most readers can relate to facing strange situations that seem familiar but are fraught with politics and popularity contests and twists. When I put it that way, it sounds much like junior high/high school, doesn’t it? And then, just to make a bad situation worse: there’s the romance. Does she love Gale? Does she love Peeta? Katniss doesn’t seem to know what she really wants and who she really cares for.
I also completely enjoyed the setting of Panem. It was weird and wonderful and just a little bit off-putting. I could see the North America that we know now turning out that way under the right circumstances. I also particularly liked how the splendor of the Capitol was contrasted so sharply with the conditions in District Twelve. In these times of economic uncertainty, I think it’s something that a lot of us can relate to.
The Hunger Games definitely sucked me in with its relevance to the world today and it’s subtle commentary on society. But it was the action that kept me going, even though I had seen the movie and knew how it would end. I hung on to every Tribute’s death and waited anxiously with Katniss for the next battle, the next fight for her life. And when the end finally came, it was the opposite of what I would have expected.
I will definitely be buying and reading the next two books in the series, as I simply must know what happens in Panem next. And I think that there are many things Suzanne Collins does that I will have to keep in mind for my own writing.
All in all, a great book that made an excellent movie. I hunger for more.