Author: Suzanne Collins
Title: The Hunger Games
Publication Info: Scholastic Audio Books (2008)
Summary/Review: I heard a lot of hype about this book and when I saw it available for download as an audiobook from my library, I decided to give it a listen with no knowledge of the plot. The book is set in a future dystopia where the United States has been divided into 12 strictly controlled districts. Each year the authoritarian government holds a lottery for 1 boy and 1 girl from each district who are brought to a wilderness arena to battle until all but one is dead. The games are required tv viewing and serve as a cross between ancient gladiatorial combat and reality television. The premise is very familiar and reminiscent of works such as “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell, Stephen King’s The Long Walk and The Running Man and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale among others.
With the plot very familiar, Collins works on character development. The narrator and protagonist is Katniss, the tribute from the poorest of the districts who has to rely on her hunting and survival skills to compete against wealthier and better prepared opponents. One of the more interesting aspects of the book is that since the competitors know they’re being watched on tv, they can manipulate the audience in hopes of having them contribute gifts that can be parachuted into the arena. An added twist to the story is that the boy from Katniss’ district, Peeta, may or may not be in love with her and they use the star-crossed lovers’ story to appeal to the audience. Katniss is an interesting ambiguous character in that while knowing of the farce behind the tyrannical government she is also fully willing to participate in the competition. On the downside of the novel, there is far too much internal monologue that reads as expository filler.
The book is good enough although I’m not sure it’s worthy of the hype and I’m not certain I’d want to read the rest of the series. The completionist in me wants to know how the story ends but what I’ve read about the following book doesn’t sound like it would be all the interesting.