The Hunger Games #1 // 374 pp. // YA Dystopian // Scholastic Press // Oct. 2008
SUMMARY: Written in first-person POV, the book tells the story of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to take her little sister’s spot in the “Hunger Games,” an annual competition which teens from each of the 12 districts compete to the death against each other. Also headed to the Games is Peeta Mellark, Katniss’ male tribute counterpart. Going in, Katniss’ only goal is to survive, but her simple plan becomes complicated when Peeta declares his love for her on national television and her mentor suggests Katniss and Peeta pretend they’re in love as a strategy to win. Katniss isn’t sure she can trust Peeta, but has no choice if she wants to survive — guilt-free, at least. The only thing is, only one person can win the Hunger Games, which means that in the end, if it comes down to just her and Peeta, one of them will have to die…
After no longer being able to ignore all the hoopla surrounding this book, I decided it was high time I read it to see for myself what all the hype was about. Plus, with the movie coming out, I wanted to be able to read the book without any film influence after it was released. To be honest, I was skeptical about even reading the series because from what I’d heard, it seemed like a rip from the Japanese book/film Battle Royale. But, hey, peer pressure got the best of me and I decided to give The Hunger Games a shot anyway, despite my reservations. Upon reading The Hunger Games, I realized that the main difference between it and Battle Royale is that while Battle Royale focuses on the physical violence of vetting teens against each other, Hunger Games gives prominence to character development — mostly that of main character Katniss Everdeen.
Technically there was nothing wrong with the book; it was interesting, hooked me right away, and had its fair share of tear-jerking scenes interspersed with creative descriptions of the strange apocalyptic world of the future (i.e. the “fashion” of the Capitol and the unique evolved wildlife). However, it just didn’t quite make me squeal with fangirl glee like I thought it would. I’m not sure if it’s because it was too hyped-up, or what, but after I finished the story I just felt… meh. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t DISLIKE the story — in fact, I can see why other people are so smitten with the book and I would definitely recommend it to others — but it didn’t leave me hanging on the edge of my seat, anxious to find out what happens RIGHT THIS INSTANT. Despite my blasé attitude, I told myself I’d read the rest of the series to finish it out as well as give myself time to get more into it.