Not Your Average YA Read – The Hunger Games

I know it’s everywhere right now but I really enjoyed this book and wanted to give it a review.

Suzanne Collins is not afraid to rethink the Young Adult novel in her latest series The Hunger Games. The first book of the trilogy, for which the series takes its name, features sixteen-year old Katniss Everdeen who finds herself in the annual seventy-fourth Hunger Games, where she is expected to fight her fellow teammates, all between the ages of twelve and eighteen to the death in front of their home nation of a futuristic North America, now called Panem.

When many of the books in the YA section of a bookstore that feature a female protagonist have the same overarching plot of, girl has problem, girl meets boy, boy helps solve problem, boy and girl live happily ever after, Suzanne Collins does not find the need to follow such an outline. Katnis, who narrates the novel, is never afraid to voice her strong opinions, whether it is the hatred that she has for her family’s cat or her spontaneous act of love and bravery where she volunteers to participate in The Hunger Games in place of her twelve-year old sister Prim. Ever since a mining accident killed Katnis’s father, and shattered her mother’s nerves, Katnis has found herself the leader of her family, which has greatly strengthened her character and her independence over the years. It has also made her an excellent archer and hunter, which are skills that ultimately prepare her for The Games. Every problem that Katnis she herself has solved without the help of others. During The Hunger Games however, Katnis wrestles with the point at which she should care for others versus the point at which she should care for only herself. It is this internal battle and development of character that makes The Hunger Games a coming of age novel.

As well as having strong characterization, The Hunger Games satisfies a broad audience beyond its young adult readership, from college-aged readers to adults. This is in part due to its wide range of subjects, as well as its parallels to the modern world. In terms of the former, The Hunger Games is a post apocalyptic novel, a survival novel, a political novel, and a romance novel. Katnis struggles with her role within the Hunger Games in relation to herself as a character, the fellow contestant from her home district; Peeta Mellark, the other twenty-two contestants, the overbearing and overly elaborate government called The Capitol who is the initiator of the Games, and her own survival. Meanwhile the entirety of The Hunger Games is being filmed for Panem’s viewing pleasure. Despite the futuristic nature of the novel, many of its issues and themes are relevant today. Readers will be able to walk away with a variety of ideas concerning the role of government in society, interpersonal relationships, materialism versus poverty, and the portrayals of life that television offers the world.

It is ultimately the novel’s fast paced adventurous plot that drives the story, making The Hunger Games a quick yet enjoyable read. Suzanne Collins has a strong control over her blunt prose, and knows when to steer the novel towards adventure or romance, versus when to steer it towards brutality. The fast paced nature, control of prose, and universality of subject widens the intended audience of The Hunger Gamesbeyond the young adult reader. Katnis’s struggle throughout the novel to find herself in her twisted society is one that is relatable to all. Before The Games officially begin, Katnis’s fellow tribute Peeta presents the issue that both he and Katniss work through in the novel; “When the time comes I’m sure that I will kill just like everyone else. I can’t go down without a fight. Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games”.

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5 thoughts on “Not Your Average YA Read – The Hunger Games

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