Before I bought "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins, I was already anticipating its greatness. I had heard it described as "awesome" by my English teacher and my school librarian, and now that I've finished, I can say that it met all my expectations.
This book, the first in the series, tells the story of a post-apocalypse America, which has become a country called "Panem" after a huge war. Panem is the capital city, surrounded by 12 districts, each one poorer than the next.
The hero of the story, Katniss Everdeen, lives in the poorest of the districts, District 12. She spends most of her first 18 years taking care of her little sister, hunting game in the woods behind their house, and sweating out the annual choosing of the "tributes" for the Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games is a competition invented by the leaders of the capital, designed to keep the districts in check after an uprising many years ago. Each district must send two children (between the ages of 12 and 18) to fight in a battle to the death for the "enjoyment" of the people, sort of like a modern gladiator game.
The 24 contestants are thrown into an arena, where they must maneuver through terrain such as forests and fields. In the end there must be a victor, so the contestants must use any method they choose to kill their opponents, and emerge the winner of the games.
In this year's Hunger Games, Katniss' younger sister is chosen as one of the tributes. Katniss must make a decision: does she take the place of her sister, and risk almost certain doom in the arena? Or does she take the safe route, but essentially give her sister a death sentence? In the end, Katniss decides to volunteer to take the place of her sister, and is whisked off to the capital to prepare for the games. Along the way, she meets the male tribute, Peeta, with whom she forms a strong bond and then romantic relationship. Throughout their ordeals, they must use all their strength and wits to make sure that they do not get killed.
I was worried that the book wouldn't live up to its hype. However, Collins delivered a great read. She mixes high-octane action with nail-biting suspense, creating a fast and furious story that pulls readers in from page one. The people in the book each have distinct characteristics. Katniss is tough, calculating, and a little impulsive. Peeta is the more open one, with a cheery disposition and a sense of humor even in times of peril. These characters keep the book sharp and exciting, and almost leap off the page in their detail.
I found myself hooked and engaged from the start. The only complaint I had while reading was that in some parts of the story, the romance seemed to detract from the general storyline. But it was minor, and did not do much to decrease my enjoyment of the book.
I give "The Hunger Games" a 9.5 out of 10. It had me entranced, excited and hungry for more. This is one highly hyped story that you would not want to miss. But as a warning: I recommend this book for readers 12 and up, because there is blood and violence.
This review was written by Harry W. from Andover, MA and originally ran on TeenInk.com, a website where teens contribute their own writing and photography. Check out the original review here and leave a comment with your thoughts.