While getting together with family over the holidays, my cousin was talking about this book that she had really enjoyed. Actually, she called it "crack," which I guess is a couple steps beyond a good book. She lent the book to my stepsister, who lent it to her mother, who then lent it to me. It's been awhile since I read a good book, so I thought why not? I started reading it that evening.
I didn't get to bed until about two in the morning, when I finished the last page and was disappointed that the book was over.
Suzanne Collins has created a world and a character that completely sucks you in, and it's almost impossible to resist turning the page to find out what happens next, until there are no more pages to turn. The story is told from the point of view of Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen year old girl who had to grow up many years ago, when her father died and her mother became too depressed to take care of Katniss and her younger sister. Each year in Panem, a post-apocalyptic US, names of children from each district are drawn to compete in the Hunger Games, which is actually a fight to the death, and only one child can be the winner. When the name of Katniss' sister is drawn, Katniss feels she has no choice other than to volunteer to take her place, and so the story begins.
Like so many good heroes, Katniss honestly has no idea what about her is so special, or what it is that draws people to her. For her, the primary concern is survival, but she is also fully aware of the political agenda behind the games, and she has no wish to kill if she doesn't have to. Survival is a game she is used to playing, back home on the streets of her very poor district. More foreign to her is the adoration and attention of others, and the love and affection of the boy she knows she is ultimately going to have to kill.
On the surface, The Hunger Games is an action-filled adventure story that keeps you turning the pages, but that is certainly not all there is to it. There is plenty here also to contemplate about what we take for granted, about the importance of compassion and humanity, about what it is that makes a hero, and what things may be more important even than survival.
I've ordered the second book, Catching Fire, and eagerly await both its arrival and that of the final book, Mockingjay, which will be coming out in August.
Crack, indeed. My cousin was right. The book is definitely addictive. Side effects may include hours of lost sleep while staying up re-reading it for the fourth time, thinking in depth about the things in life you value and/or take for granted, expanded imagination, greater appreciation of food and of life in general.
I guess there are worse addictions.