If you’re like me and scour entertainment news sites, you’ve come across all the hoopla surrounding the casting for “The Hunger Games.” Comment boards have been filled with fans’ critiques on who’s playing who and theories as to how the film is going to play out. And this whole time you’re wondering, what the heck is “The Hunger Games”? And why do so many people know about it? “The Hunger Games” is a young adult (YA) fiction series. Yes, a YA novel is getting this much buzz. After the dreck that has become popular in that genre (Stephanie Meyer, I want those hours of my life back), I was a little hesitant to check out the series despite the recommendations of many. But I’m glad I did. The premise of the series created by Suzanne Collins isn’t what you would consider appropriate for a YA audience.
The Hunger Games takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where the Capitol is now in charge of the 13 districts of Panem, or what used to be North America. The Hunger Games are an annually televised event in which a boy and a girl are picked from each district and then are expected to fight to the death. The Games’ are the Capitol’s way of punishing the population for an earlier failed rebellion led by the now decimated District 13. And also reminding everyone how truly in control they are. Taking front and center of this violent yet entertaining series is the main character Katniss Everdeen. A refreshingly self-sufficient heroine that the YA genre seems to be lacking these days. Katniss is more concerned with the survival of her family than anything else. When her younger sister, Prim, is drafted to represent District 12 in the Hunger Games, Katniss promptly volunteers in her place. Joining her in the arena will be Peeta, an older boy who had shown Katniss kindness in the past when she was struggling to find food for her family. Between the two of them they make an unlikely pair to even come close to winning when facing off with children from tributes who have trained for this event all of their life. Along with these two are a bevy of supporting characters: Haymitch, their reluctant and very drunk trainer, Effie, the effervescent PR coach, Cinna, the duo’s empathetic stylist, and Gale, Katniss’ oldest and best friend. Interspersed throughout are also bits and pieces of a love story.
Suzanne Collins’ take on war, society’s obsession with violence, and an increasing addiction to reality TV was a lot more compelling than I anticipated. The action in the first book, and in the subsequent two novels, sucked me in on the first go. I could not bring myself to put the book down. Recognizing I’m not the target demographic for this series, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. The main characters were especially fleshed out, and you quickly find yourself attached to them. Some of the supporting characters took a little more time to develop as characters in their own right, and the ones that survive onto the latter part of the series do get to grow along with the narrator. If you’re looking for a lighter, yet entertaining, read these days, I highly recommend you give this series a shot. I know the few people I’ve recommended it to have had the same response as I did. They couldn’t wait to consume all three books. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, would it help that the book has been awarded several young fiction awards? Besides don’t you want to be in the know along with everyone else in the theater when the movie comes out next year?