I wanted to put a hundred exclamation points after I typed in the title of this book for the title of this post. What a wild ride this book was and I am playing it cool and trying to pretend that the next book is not begging to be read right now so I can quickly write this review.
Brief plot summary: The book takes place in a future in which the land that used to be called North America is now Panem: a country divided into twelve districts each of which are controlled by the Capitol. Each year they perform what is called the reaping in which contestants from each district are drawn from a lottery. These tributes, as they are called, are to be placed in an arena to take part in The Hunger Games, a battle for life and death that is aired on television. Katniss is from District Twelve. She takes the place of her little sister as tribute. Then she is swept into a world of high society and fashion as they prepare her to enter the arena.
I have to say this book had me from the get-go. The writing is very direct. Collins manages to show a depth to a young adult story that is hard to find. It is a very physical book. I became very aware of how blessed we are in this country with all the things we have at our fingertips when Katniss and those in her district have to scrounge for every bit of food they can get. The things we take for granted today are luxuries in this future society.
There is also romance in this book but it's played differently than your average heartthrob romance (Twilight anyone?). Katniss is forced to pretend that she is in love with fellow District Twelve tribute Peeta who is also known as the boy with the bread. In order to survive she has to make this love look believable and sometimes that is harder than you'd think. For Peeta, however, it is not hard to pretend because he seems to actually be infatuated with her as he tells of how he's been in love with her since they were little kids.
I don't want to spoil anything for you if you have not read the book so I am going to make one more quick comment about the characters. I loved that the descriptions of each character was sparse enough to let my imagination do the rest but there was enough there that I was not led astray. On YouTube you can find several fans who have cast their opinions as to who should play whom in a movie (they are actually in talks of a movie that is supposed to come out in 2011).
After reading the book I disagree with just about all the choices I saw. Hands down everyone has this scrawny pretty-boy playing Peeta. Wrong-o. Peeta is supposed to be big and able to throw around big bags of flour. For Katniss they usually have some dainty looking girl (most people have gone with Emily Browning). Umm...This girl kicks serious butt and she never describes herself as dainty. Most of the choices just suck. I really think the actors who play the characters cannot be too pretty and perfect. They need to have a somewhat savage look to them and they cannot be incredibly scrawny looking. Hopefully Hollywood doesn't screw that up. I actually picture Katniss to have a gymnast's build from all her climbing trees, hiking, and hunting.
There you have it. Go read the book if you haven't already! I'm off to start the second book, Catching Fire!!!! (There are my exclamation points)
Jake Taylor graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional writing. He is the author of The Tales of the Unluckiest Lucky Girl series. He is also an avid reader, traveler, movie-watcher, and music lover. He currently serves in the US Navy and is stationed in San Diego, CA.