My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Novels with dystopian themes have been popular for generations, and one of the newest, The Hunger Games, is worthy enough to merit a place among the classics. Written for teens, with adolescent main characters, the story will snag and rivet the attention of an older readership as well. The plot is straightforward: the American democratic experiment has failed, leaving the surviving population distributed among a dozen rigidly separated settlements, each region assigned to produce a specific commodity by the elitist, totalitarian government. To discourage rebellion, those in power sponsor the annual “Hunger Games”, in which two teens from each settlement, selected by lottery, must compete in a diabolical, controlled wilderness, to be the last one alive. Every moment is televised, broadcasted to the populace, which is required to watch. Katniss Everdeen is one of the “tributes” from the impoverished District 12. A fierce hunter dedicated to keeping herself and her family fed, Katniss has never had the luxury of considering the feelings of others. While she is deeply afraid and reluctant to kill other humans, she vows to fight to the bitter end in the Games.
Author Collins writes powerfully, so vividly that in violence and strategy sequences one finds one’s own mind merging with that of Katniss, who is a strong, nearly archetypal female figure. Although only one other character is as completely delineated as she, the reality of the supporting cast members is nevertheless compelling. Collins ramps up the tension early, and never allows it to flag, even at the very end. But be forewarned: The Hunger Games is the first in a trilogy, and the conclusion serves as a introduction to the second rather than a resolution.