WINNING MEANS FAME AND FORTUNE.
LOSING MEANS CERTAIN DEATH.
THE HUNGER GAMES HAVE BEGUN…
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on life TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before – and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
**Spoiler Alert!** If you plan on reading the book, you may not want to read my review. … Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
What an incredible book!!!
Collins creates an alternate world where North America is no longer as it stands now. Divided into 13 districts, each has their way of life. Not liking the powers that be, a rebellion had been formed, and squashed, which explains how District 13 no longer exists. Now new rules make just about everyone’s lives absolutely miserable. Poor, starving, people do what they need to stay alive – and pray they don’t get caught.
Katliss Everdeen, 16, is one of those people. After her father had died in the coal mine explosion, she has done what she needed to do to keep her family alive. Her father had taught her well. She hunts, she barters, and does what she can.
And then enter the Hunger Games, created after the rebellion. It was Capitol’s way of keeping the people, the Districts, under their thumbs, a constant reminder that – look what we can do. We can take your children and make them kill each other. Rise against us and it will become infinitely worse for everyone. Children from the ages of 12 to 18 are at risk, male and female alike. Thrown into a situation where it becomes kill or be killed, and be the last person standing – the victor, do whatever is necessary to stay alive. At the age of 12, their name is entered once. At 13, twice. 14, three times, and so on, until their 18th year. After that, no more. Obviously, the older you get, the more at risk you are. A catch to that: say you are poor and starvation is knocking on your door. As an adolescent between the ages of 12 and 18, you can exchange your name for tesserae, which is worth one meager year’s supply of grain and oil for one person. And the entries are accumulative. Your names from the year before, from each tesserae, stays in that ball, until your final year. And this just raises the stakes – your name could be next.
This year, Katliss’s sister, Prim, turned 12, and her name had been entered, but only once. And yet… her name was pulled. Out of desperation and panic, Katliss volunteers herself, to take her sister’s place.
Already nervous, anxious and fearful, her heart sinks to her stomach when the boy’s name is called. Peeta Mellark’s name is pulled from the boys’ ball. The baker’s son, he had risked a beating at the age of twelve and stole to stale loaves of bread and gave them to a starving Katliss. She had never spoken to him, before or since, but she was always grateful for that small act of kindness. And then reality hits – only one victor, one person can win. How is she supposed to be able to kill Peeta, the first person to give her that small act of kindness.
From District 12 to the Capitol, it’s an experience no one will ever receive – unless their name is pulled from that ball. From rich foods to clothes and costumes, from training and judging and scoring, Katliss takes it all in, no matter how much she abhors it, no matter how much it twists her stomach. She has to, for reprecussions would fall on her mother and sister and the rest of her district.
And then the Games begin, and it is all about survival. (I won’t go into details – except to say there are times were you become furious and times where a box of Kleenex is handy.) Strategy comes into play, and some of it leaves Katliss’s mind reeling. It seems the strategy is that Peeta is supposed to be in love with Katliss. Yet, she doesn’t know if it’s real or not. Then an announcement sounds – rules have been changed. The two people from the same district can both be the victors, if they are the last alive. Now Katliss is determined – she won’t have to kill the first person who showed her an act of kindness. They can both live, and both go home.
More twists, fighting, trying to stay alive. And just when they believe they make it, another twist occurs that makes your own stomach drop, your heart rip out, and you may have to put the book down to wipe your tear-filled eyes.
And just when Katliss thought the “star-crossed lovers” strategy was simply that, strategy, it turns out, Peeta wasn’t lying. She doesn’t know what she feels, but she is warned. Play it up, cause both of their lives depend on it.
**An incredible book, one of the best YA novels I’ve ever read. I think it surpasses Twilight!**
The story sucked me right in from the beginning, and quickly became an unputdownable book. If you are a YA fan, this book is a definite must-read and a book for your “keeper” shelf.
Those who know me know I’m not big on YA novels. Because they are written with young adults in mind, the dialogue isn’t quite adult. The scenes aren’t adult. I have a hard time putting myself in that frame of mind to really enjoy it. But I have to admit, this one sucked me right in. While it’s YA, I personally feel that the violence may be a bit much for younger YA. However, my niece is going on 12, and she’s loving it, so what do I know? *shrug*
The violent scenes are just that – violent. But, even though they are quite violent, it’s so well written that you are literally in the characters’ shoes. You feel what they feel; hope, fear, adrenaline, loss, sadness, anger… the author pulls them out of you, no matter your age.
The characters are superb! You get a feel for what their lives are like, what they go through, how they live, what they feel. You become the shadow over their shoulder, watching and hearing everything they do, right there in the story with them.
You root for them, and root hard. Then you hit the end of the book and immediately want to grab the second. So, ladies and gents of all ages, make sure you have Catching Fire on hand. Like me, you’ll regret it if you don’t, LOL!