Back in the times of the Romans, gladiators would participate in public games. These games would be played out in an arena surrounded by onlookers. But these were no ordinary games.
One or more of the players would die on the whim or live at the mercy of the ruling authority. However, public opinion played a part in the life or death of a gladiator. In a somewhat familiar tone of the gladiator games, author Suzanne Collins has created such a world in her novel The Hunger Games.
But there’s a major difference in Collins’ novel from the old Roman games. The players who are to fight to the death in this book are children. These fights are the product of a world gone to pot where the wicked Capitol is in charge. The fights are a sick form of entertainment for the people who watch the games.
In The Hunger Games, the world as we know it has ceased to exist and is now ruled over by the city called Capitol. Under the Capitol, the rest of the area is divided into sections known as districts.
The districts are the lifestyles of the poor and downtrodden. From these districts every year, children are forced to take part in the deadly games. The loser dies. What makes this story so can’t-look-away-fascinating is the integrity of the teenage star of the book-Katniss Everdeen.
This teenage heroine voluntarily takes part in the games in order to protect her sister, Prim. Though skilled in survival, Katniss is not looking to kill. But in the day of kill or be killed, Katniss does what she must in order to live. Both wise and cunning, Katniss knows how to use the games to her advantage and survive.
With endless pacing and a depth of writing skill, Suzanne Collins brings a young adult novel of epic emotional proportion to the hands of readers everywhere. Rather than shy away from issues that face the youth or wrap them up in watered down pretty bows, Collins drops the issues down without preaching and without oversimplifying.
She brings the issues into the lives of the protagonists and using their limited knowledge, skills, and view of life through a teenage mindset, these characters are endearingly likable and real.
Though The Hunger Games is a young adult novel, many adults have read and enjoyed the story thanks to the complexity of Collins’ writing style. Her what’s-going-to-happen-next chapter endings will have readers up late at night in order to find out what happens.