In a nutshell: Our country as we know it ends up in ruins and is then known as Panem, a nation ruled by the Capitol, which is surrounded by the 12 districts it governs. At one time, long before the story takes place, the districts waged a failed uprising on the Capitol. Defeated and broken, they had to suffer the terms of a surrender. As part of this punishment for trying to overtake the Capitol, each district had to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Only one out of the 24 could survive. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist, lives alone with her emotionally disturbed mother and younger sister Prim. Although Prim's name is pulled, Katniss races ahead of her and offers to volunteer in her place, protecting her little sister. She is then forced to represent her district in the Games.
I will break it down into likes and dislikes:
- The way Collins leaves you starving for more, ending every chapter with some kind of jaw-dropping twist. Nice writing tactic! Whether I liked the book or not, I would have kept reading just to appease my need to know what the hell happens next.
- Action packed. Never a dull scene.
- Fast paced. Story moves along quite steadily.
- Likable characters. Nobody was overly annoying, and although Katniss reminded me a little bit of Bella Swan from "Twilight" at times, it wasn't that bad. I wanted to slap her in about two scenes, but that's not terrible compared to Bella and Remy from Amanda Hocking's "Hollowmen." Katniss was brave and fierce, but still held on to her cluelessness and wasn't easily wooed aside from the fancy food. Didn't blame her! Me loves food.
- I'm a fan of trilogies, so that helped my enthusiasm.
- I hugely respect authors whose work makes it to the big screen! And I love reading the book before seeing the movie.
- Like I said, I don't normally enjoy dystopian novels, but this one didn't turn me off. It wasn't overboard the way she wrote it.
- This bullet relates to the previous one. The story was very creative and believable. If not the U.S.A., I can actually see this being a thing in some Third World country that we don't know much about. I mean, just think of the barbaric things that really do happen across the globe, especially with tribal people and place with extreme poverty and hierarchy. You hear stuff on the news all the time. The laws and regimes are quite different in other places, ya know.
- The deaths during the games were well created. It wasn't just a bunch of violence or shooting. It was strategic and each was totally different.
- There was an intermission, i.e. part one and two. I like that. It's like a two-fer.
- It ended in a way that allowed me to feel satisfied if I didn't choose to read the next two books in the trilogy, although that may not be the reaction the author seeks.
- I'm a big fan of first person, but not first person present tense. That made it an uncomfortable read for my brain. It just didn't sound right to me.
- Her descriptions were a bit confusing at times such as with the scenery or whereabouts of the characters. I could not picture the town they ran through or the Cornucopia thingy. I had to go back and read certain scenes over again to grasp a mental picture.
- The character names annoyed me. "Gale" didn't seem like an appropriate name for the strong character he was. "Peeta" made me think of Jack in the Box's Fajita Pita or pita bread, especially since his family owned a bakery. And I'm not hating on the author's creativity, just expressing what irked me. Most authors put a whole lot of thought into naming their characters, and many times they are reflections of some real-life person, place or thing that influenced the author's life.
- The book was very predictable. I would predict things, and they would happen. Even after the first chapter, I told myself what the basics of the story would turn out to be, such as who would get chosen, who would survive, who would be in love or not, her fate with the Capitol officials, and I was about 99% correct. The only part that kind of got me was when Peeta joined forces with those rebels. I doubted his loyalty for a while just like Katniss did.