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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review : The hunger games

Genre : Fiction/Dystopian

Set in the dystopian world of future America, the ruling city of Capitol selects two tributes(individuals) from each district (12 of them) and pits them against one another in a giant arena to be watched and entertained by the living world. The Hunger games gets its name as the district from which the winner is, gets better food supply for one year till the next games begin. World has fallen and it is Panem that governs what is left. It rules with iron fist that results in discrimination and anarchic freedom less lives in the districts. They in turn go on the offensive to down The Capitol. Set in force to take revenge on the districts who had warred against the Capitol for freedom and to show the districts that the Capitol is still the ruler, reminding them of what would result if they repeat the offensive again The Capitol conduct the hunger games.

District 12 is the outermost one in the living world that borders the totaled and completely wiped off district 13. They always remember what the power of Capitol is and the result if they are provoked. Here is where Katniss Everdeen and Gale Hawthorne spend their days sneaking into the sealed forests. They enjoy the freedom hunting and fishing and make sure their sneakiness goes unpunished by including members of high society in their clientele. The Mayor, the baker and the butcher are included.  Katniss is a self made individual losing her father to a mine accident when she was young, where all that remained of him were bits and pieces. Her mother loses interest in life and shun from daily activities of raising their children. Katniss's sister Primrose turned twelve, the age when kids become eligible for The Hunger Games.

Come d-day, lots take place that are televised to the entire world for selecting the tributes. By fate or ill-luck(probability) Primrose gets chosen for which Katniss volunteers to replace. This act has been unseen before and evokes surprise from the viewers. Her chosen mate is Peeta Mellark, the son of the baker. Peeta had lived a well fed life by the way of wasted loaves daily and unfamiliar to the fresh food hunted down everyday, a life led by Katniss. She gets confused on the relationships she has to build going forward. Should she befriend Peeta? What if it turns out to her disadvantage and he kills her. How about the only previous winner from her district Haymitch. Living few minutes sober everyday should his words be treated seriously?

Katniss's objective is helped by every character she comes across. Her stylist Cinna, the representative from Capitol Effie all seem to help her. Cinna's makeover and dress selection is spot on that captures the attention of the 'sponsors', people wealthy enough and interested enough to help the players by supplying them objects in need through the games. The rating she gets during practice even after she 'offends' the judges' lack of attention towards her by shooting an arrow at their food somehow shows she is 'special'. This is further helped by the open revelation from Peeta's love for Katniss during their public appearance that makes them look like star-crossed lovers.

The games start and Katniss experiences the real threat, the darkness and the fear of it all. Her hunting days comes in very helpful as she is able to hide on the fork of high trees during the cold nights. She gets confused on what she should feel for Peeta, after having seen him with the special tributes from districts 1-3, befriends the young, petite and good hearted Rue only to see her die in her arms. Katniss shows grit to overcome thirst, menacing predators, special incursions like the mutts introduced only to increase the 'drama' of the games, gets help from sponsors and experiences a 'for the television' love from Peeta. She comes out winning and the plot during the games is described very well.

The final chapters showed how Katniss, to save Peeta at the end of the games opposes the Capitol and in turn becomes a 'political' enemy of the system. It also shows what happens to the tributes after they are lifted off by a hovercraft on their death, when Katniss recognizes one of her mate's eyes in a muttant or mutt as they call them. It further ends with a revelation from Peeta, setting the plane for the next book.

I am waiting for Book 2 - 'Catching fire' that is still in transit. If the pace and the beautiful characters continue as words and chapters in book 2, I will be experiencing a wonderful trilogy.

High points : Characterization, pace
Low points : Not enough physical description about the world, more social information(reason it was that fast?) 
Rating : 8.2/10 
In the end : If you love fast paced story with great characters, this is it. No wonder it is made into a film. Go for it.