First of all, I'd like to point out the fact that this review will be anything but a "blurb". There is just much too much to say about this book! Only having joined the blogging community for a few weeks and already hearing endless amounts of praises about The Hunger Games, I decided that I might as well see what all the fuss is about. At first I was a bit skeptical because I have never taken an interest in stories about survival and the wilderness. The fact that the book promised a lot of bloodshed and brutality also added to my doubts. By the 10th page, however, I found myself eating my words. I was hooked and it took all my strength to pace myself and not finish the whole book in one sitting.
For those of you who were like me (aka living under a rock) and don't know what The Hunger Games is all about, I'm happy to provide a quick overview. The story is set in the not-so-distant future where North America is known as Panem. Every year, each of the twelve districts in Panem must send a boy and a girl aged between 12-18 to the Capitol where they will have to participate in the Hunger Games. The horror of it all? The whole point of the game is for the twenty four "tributes" to fight with each other until only one victor remains alive while the whole event is televised all over Panem. When Katniss Everdeen's twelve year old sister, Prim, is chosen to be a tribute for their district, she puts her own life on the line by volunteering to take her sister's place. Before she knows it, Katniss is put right smack in the middle of the Capitol's favourite way to show the nation that they are in control.
I found this novel to be wonderfully written. Collins finds just the right balance of action, brutality, humour, and romance to make this book likeable to anyone. The character development of the main character, Katniss, is flawless. In the beginning she is mostly portrayed as a strong, independent girl who keeps all of her emotions tightly locked. As the story progresses, however, we see that there is a vulnerable side to her and that she is indeed capable of trusting and caring for others besides her sister. We see that, like anyone in the real world, no matter how independent she is, she still needs others to be there for her.
The world that Collins has created is disturbingly easy to imagine. It doesn't take a genius to see the similarities between that reality and our own reality. There is the constant need for power. The horrible fondness to violence. The way it is portrayed as entertainment. The way people overlook the poor. The fact that people shouldn't be judged by how they look. All of this is easily relatable to the world we live in now and this only adds to the value of the novel. I especially find the fact that the people of the Capitol treat the Hunger Games as a sort of Olympics to be especially haunting and disturbing.
Lastly, I need to allow myself to be a hormone-crazed teenage girl. (Insert squeal here.) The romance in this book is just utterly fantastic! There were times where I would be in my room squealing and jumping because of the cute moments scattered all over the book. I don't know how much I should say about this topic except that Peeta Mellark is amazing and if I could, I would keep him all to myself. Hehe. He is just too charming and funny and caring and... fantastic. ^_^ I can't say much about Gale, though, because I don't think they showed him enough in the book for him to be a potential love interest. Right now, I see him as more like a big brother to Katniss than anything else.
Needless to say, Catching Fire (the next book in the trilogy) is just days away from being read. Stay tuned!