"Winning will make you famous, losing means certain death.
In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.
When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister's place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature."
Originally I was hesitant to pick this book up, despite it getting good reviews, it didn't sound like something I'd enjoy too much. But my friend pushed me lots to get it, so I of course did. And I'm really, really glad she pushed! This book is fantastic.
It only took a few pages of Katniss' voice to hook me in to her world, one where survival is tough, starvation a real possibility and where she, at 16, is (and has been) taking care of her mom and 12 year old sister for years. She's a hunter, taking out rabbits and other game to either feed her family or trade for other necessities.
The Hunger Games start with the reaping. Everyone must be present in town as the 'tributes' from each of the 12 districts, one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 and 18, are picked. This year, Prim's name is called and Katniss instantly steps up, volunteering herself in her sisters place. The boy called from District 12 this year is Peeta. He's not dirt poor like Katniss, struggling for every mouthful, but that doesn't mean life has been easy for him. They travel by train to the Capitol, the ruling city who keep the Districts in strict order. There they are given all the food they can eat, and more, whist going through interviews and training for the Games.
In the Capitol the games are a big event, one where a lot of money is bet and crowds love to back the tributes. But the arena is far from a game. Once inside it, it's every person for themselves. The last person standing is the victor.
The tension built from page one and never let up. You really feel for Katniss and the position she's in, and then as she fights for her life in the Games. Nothing is easy for her, but she's tough and smart, willing to do everything she can. She's not stupid, she knows how small her chances are but if she's going to go out, she's going to go out fighting.
I think it's the way this book is written that really sucks me in. You get a real sense very early on about how tough life is for Katniss, how bad it is in the games, why her friend Gale is always so angry at the Capitol where no one lacks for anything. I love Katniss' ability to adapt and think on her feet, her stubbornness and how she cares when really she wants to shut everyone out so she can do what she must. The world Katniss lives in is well described making it easy to visualise exactly what's going on and you can't help hoping that she'll just catch a break. Collins doesn't flinch away from the dark sides of Katniss' life or of the death that must be dealt in the Games either, making it all that more real.
A truly fantastic book that had me hanging on every word and desperate for more when I was done. I had a really, really hard time putting it down and I couldn't wait to read book 2, Catching Fire, which is equally as good. A must read that I'd highly recommend to both adults and teens. 10/10