Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with every one out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?
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 live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, 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 will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
With all the hype surrounding Mockingjay, the final installment of this dystopian trilogy, I finally jumped on The Hunger Games bandwagon too. I've seen nothing but rave reviews for this series all over the place, but I wasn't convinced if this was my kind of read - I mean, a reality show about kids killing each other off, are you kidding me? But then the first audiobook was legally available on some site for a week and somone kindly linked it in their blog (I forgot who it was and where it was, but thank you so much!) so I decided to download it to listen in the car ... And the rest is history. A few chapters in and I was totally hooked!
I'm sure you all know (plus it says above in the summary) that the book takes place in the future where North America used to be, but now it's called Panem and it consists of the Capitol and twelve districts, who couldn't possibly be more different. Through Katniss's eyes we first hear about her district (number 12), which feels nothing like the future, where the story is supposed to take place, but far more than the past, the Middle Ages or so. Everyone's poor and struggling and they hunt and live off fruit and veg, not tablets like you'd expect. District 12 is the poorest district and just like the rest, it's controlled by The Capitol. The story opens on Reaping Day and Katniss sort of chooses to become one of the 24 Tributes of The Hunger Games and so she is immediately whisked off to The Capitol to prepare for the games. The Capitol is a different world all together - people there speak differently, they can have any colour skin they want, they dress and act strangely. There you really get the sense that the book takes place in the future since the society is similar to ours, just far more advanced.
That was the setting, now moving on to the Hunger Games as such. Boy oh boy, what an insane idea, choosing 24 kids, placing them in the arena and making sure they kill each other off until only one remains? This is the Capitol's way of displaying its power over the districts and the inhabitants of the Capitol love this stuff! The people from the districts mostly hate it, obviously, but they're not allowed to question it. So on reaping day, two Tributes are chosen from each district, a boy and a girl. Then they're assigned a prep team, who will make sure that Tributes look their very best for all the interviews and everything before they are send to the arena to kill each other. The person who stays alive will go down in history and receive amazing prizes.
Everything seems like a normal reality TV show and the whole time I was thinking that naaah, surely this won't actually happen, surely they won't have to kill each other??? But yep, it happened big time. The actual descprition of the Games is quite gruesome and cruel and at times revolting as no details of the killings are spared. It's not always easy to read, but it's like a trainwreck, you just can't look away and you're desperate to know how all of this will end!
The story is narrated by Katniss herself and she is an amazing kickass girl! She's incredibly strong and capable and inventive, definitely a fantastic role model for young girls (as opposed to a certain Bella we all know, ahem). I really enjoyed seeing everything through her eyes, although I at times wishes we could have a third person narrator too as I wanted to know what was going on with the other Tributes as well as outside the arena. But anyway, the characters in this book are fantastic and really well portrayed! I loved Cinna and Haymitch and Peeta and Gale and Rue and pretty much everyone! However, contrary to most people who have read the book, I'm neither Team Peeta nor Team Gale. I quite like both guys and I couldn't possibly choose a team yet, but we'll see what happens later on, hehe.
Gosh, I could go on and on about this book, but I don't want to say too much - it's a book you have to experience for yourself. It's amazingy well-written, fast paced, original, powerful, but also vile and gruesome and oh so much more!
Do yourself a favour and get a copy, even if you think this is not your cup of tea ... Believe me, I didn't think it was mine either as this book is bajillion times more gruesome and violent than the ones I normally read, but I still loved it. Admittedly, at times it was difficult to read as I'm a vegetarian and all the talk about hunting and eating animals and wearing fur and leather *really* put me off (yeah, I'm crazy like that :p), but I eventually learned to accept it and focus more on the rest of the story, which is amazing. After I finished listening to this audiobook (it was legally available, I swear!!), I bought myself all three books because this series is a keeper. I'm almost halfway through Catching Fire and I'm still loving it - I cannot wait to see how it all ends (but please don't ruin it for me :p)!
plot: 5/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 4/5