Title: The Hunger games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic (5 June 2009)
Print length:464 pages
Katniss Everdeen is a survivor. She has to be: she's representing her District, number 12, in the 74th Hunger Games in the Capitol, the heart of Panem, a new land that rose from the ruins of a post-apocalyptic North America. To punish citizens for an early rebellion, the rulers require each district to provide one girl and one boy, 24 in all, to fight like gladiators in a futuristic arena. The event is broadcast like reality TV, and the winner returns with wealth for his or her district.
Well it only took me about 3 days to read this and have already started on the sequel... Needless to say, it's inventive and shocking!!! A real treat as a read.
But I am so glad it's not real, it is fiction!!!
After reading the plot and watching the adverts for the cinema adaptation, I thought there must be a twist! As it is unconceivable to imagine such a story where young people from different districts are thrown together into an arena to kill each other! This being televised and made into a massive reality show!
Honestly I thought that somewhere in the story, we would understand that those children are not really dead but actually they are!!!
As a matter of fact, it's even worse but I can't say for risk of spoilers:
The dead tributes are made into mutts. These are a genetic variations of wolves!
The story follows Katniss Everdeen. She lives with her mother and sister. Her father died in a mining accident and since then has been obliged to take care of her family. In their precarious situation, it means hunting (illegally) and trading roots, flowers and meat for other essentials.
She is 14, her sister is 11.
Every year, the Capitol (big district controlling the other 12) organizes the Hunger games. This show was invented following the rebellion of the districts against the Capitol and is a reminder that they shouldn't mess with the authorities!!
There are 12 districts, each has their speciality in terms of production. Katniss is from the 12th, specialized in Coal!
She has a best friend Gale, with whom she hunts. There is no romantic relationship although over the years they have developed a bond.
She is aware that nothing can ever happens as she doesn't want to get married and bring children into this world of poverty.
The day of the reaping - which is when each district draws the names of one girl and one boy aged between 12 and 18 yo, Katniss sister's name is read aloud although her chances of being drawn were so small. Without hesitation, Katniss volunteers to replace her and as so, seals her own death - in 74 years, only 1 victor came from their district 12.
The boy's name drawn is Peeta, the son's baker.
They are called tributes and will be 24 in total.
Together they go to the Capitol, go through preps, interviews, trainings etc... The objective of these preps is to be classified as highly as possible so that sponsors can be found and bets can be placed.
Sponsors are useful in the arena for when for example a tribute needs something in particular - food, clothes, arm, etc... - these gifts are sent by mini parachutes!!!
The arena is used in the broaden term, to define a place controlled by the Capitol - exactly like in the Truman show.
This year the arena is a vast plain with a seam, a lake, a pine tree area, a crop area, etc...
So the way you present yourself at the interviews is very important to give you maximum chance of survival.
Although Katniss and Peeta are from the poorest district, it is the first year D12 tributes appeal to the public and to the gamemakers. Thanks not only to Katniss volunteering to save her sister but also because Peeta played the card of the boy in love with his future arena enemy. They soon become the lover stars of this year's game.
Their every movement is filmed and shown - Big Brother like - to all to see. Bets are taken, gifts are sent, money is gathered, etc..
No point explaining the games themselves, the story was intense but impossible to retell!!
Twist at the end is that the rules were changed at the last minute allowing tributes from same district to be both winners and not have to kill each other. A clear Big brother rule change to please viewers.
However, right at the end, when they do manage to be the winners, the voice of Big Brother tells them that the rule has been changed again and that only ONE winner will be allowed! Peeta and Katniss who have been playing lovers on purpose (actually Peeta was sincere) for the viewers try to escape this by pretending to eat - at the same time- poisoned blueberries and therefore commit suicide, Romeo and Juliet style, making the BB to intervene and tell them OK OK you both win, don't kill yourself.
If they had both died and no winner was declared, the Capitol would have been defeated in its purpose.
This leads to the end of the book where Katniss has to really persuade EVERYone that she was too madly in love to even think about killing her lover. Something that she half manages to do making the Capitol extremely angry with her and therefore putting her family and her whole district at risk!
This leads to the sequel, how she deals with the Capitol and how the Capitol deals with her...