It was overall an entertaining read that I ravenously devoured in less than two days but I admit that I was not blown away by it, largely because I have never been a huge fan of young adult fiction.
Being the first of the trilogy, The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian society, akin to George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, in a post-apocalyptic world called Panem where North America once existed.
The highlight of each year in Panem would be the Hunger Games, a savage competition where 24 teenagers from 12 districts, which are state-like areas drawn up, are thrown into an arena to battle one another until a sole survivor remains.
The entire man-eats-man death tournament is also broadcasted live on television not only as a form of rich-man entertainment but also aims to send out a strong anti-rebellion message to the poor.
Such a tournament reminds me of pit bull fighting, where humans would breed dogs only to watch them fight to their death, all in the name of sheer entertainment and sporting fun.
Tributes for this competition, a boy and a girl from each district, are selected entirely on a lottery basis.
It was during this annual selection ceremony lead character Katniss Everdeen volunteered to take the place of her sister Primrose, who was randomly selected as a tribute from their poor mining district.
She was then whisked to the Capitol, at the heart of Panem’s dictatorship, to participate in the tournament and also witness the economic and society imbalances of her society.
“What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button?” Everdeen thought to herself. “What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment.”
The image of Everdeen is one of a rebel at heart, representing an outspoken force against repression by the authorities. She is seen as smart, steely and determined young woman who would risk her life to protect her loved ones.
This certainly is a refreshing change to the typical feminine figures portrayed in Young Adult fiction – beautiful, dreamy and fragile, who inevitably fall head over heels with the male protagonist.
Not to forget, the plot also includes an emotional tussle involving Everdeen’s budding, albeit aloof relationship with fellow district-12 boy tribute Peeta Mellark and her best friend Gale Hawthorne.
Yet this love triangle is only briefly touched upon in the first installment, allowing the action to take centre stage, and only further explored in the next two books.
As much as I am attracted to a dystopic view of the future, I am not too sure if I would finish up the rest of the trilogy. Three young adult literature in a row is a tad hard to swallow given my low threshold for this genre of books.
Ending off with the trailer to the upcoming The Hunger Games movie