Tuesday 27 Sep 2016

Hunger Games
Jennifer Ramirez

Suzanne Collins is an American writer and novelist, the daughter of an Air Force officer. Collins graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts and earned an MFA, in Dramatic Writing, from New York University. She first made a mark in children’s literature, with the New York “Times” bestselling “Underland Chronicles” series, for middle grade readers. Her debut for readers aged 12 and up, “The Hunger Games,” immediately became a New York Times bestseller.

“The Hunger Games,” originally written for a Young Adult audience, crossed over into the waiting hands of adults. There is something so powerful about a well told story that transcends the intended age group and draws in readers of all ages. It has often been said that some of the best books for adults are found between the covers of young adult fiction.

Thus, it was with “The Hunger Games.” Published in 2008, the first book in an eventual trilogy, “Games,” so beautifully written that it garnered praise from all corners of the literary globe. Critics, fellow authors and readers were taken by the journey of Katniss Evergreen and her role as a sacrificial warrior, manipulated by the state to perform in brutal gladiatorial style games between children that could have only one victor.

Collins managed to infuse this brutal dystopian future with moments of pure beauty that rival any in modern fiction. Written in first person, readers journeyed with Katniss as she is chosen, prepares for battle before the eyes of a viewing nation, sees the larger hands at work and finally realises her place in the world as she begins to fight for her life against other children bent on their own survival in the arena.

Despite a rather inconclusive ending that placed “The Hunger Games” as only a small part of a larger story arc, the book was embraced. The second book, “Catching Fire,” continued the story, but invariably added little to the story of Katniss, as the setting, again, became the arena and survival the goal.

“Mockingjay,” the final book of the trilogy published in August 2010. For many, it was an unsatisfying conclusion to what could have been a truly memorable series. In “Mockingjay,” Collins places again Katniss in the hands of others and much of the story unfolds as she finds herself in different situations and reacts accordingly.

“The Hunger Games” was excellent. I had no idea what it was about before reading it. I have an odd habit of not reading the dust jacket on many books, and in this case, with the book being recommended, I didn't bother. At first, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it.

I got over that feeling by chapter two. I could hardly put the book down from that point on. There was a bit of everything in this book, action, suspense, humour, a touch of romance.

There were actually times, during “Games,” where my heart would start to race. I'd be so tense I was practically on the edge of my seat. The adrenaline-pumping action kept me engaged and curious, always wondering what would happen next, how Katniss was going to get out of a certain situation, or what disaster the Gamemakers would send next to provide cheap thrills to the audience.

Parts of “Games” were quite disturbing. A few moments were rather horrific and had my stomach turning. These passages were broken up by lighter moments, things that had me smiling or actually laughing aloud.

Even though “Games” is technically a young adult book, I would recommend it to anyone. I find that I often enjoy young adult books as much, if not more than adult fiction. I tend to add them to my reading list on a regular basis, and know many other adults who do the same  and I'm talking about a wide age range here, from about twenty to seventy years old.

I loved that Katniss was the heroine through and through. She depended on her own strengths, skills and intelligence, and didn't rely solely on others. It was a refreshing change from many other stories where the heroine is completely dependent on the leading male from the get-go.

 Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for a love story. I often choose a good romance novel, as I browse the library or bookstore, but this was a nice change. An intelligent young woman who knows her own mind, and although there are elements of romance in the book, it's subtly interwoven into the story, and is far from the main focus.

Jennifer Ramirez, known as Jenny, has reviewed and edited for 5+ years. Originally from Toronto, she grew up performing and competing in rhythmic gymnastics. Jenny enjoys reviewing movies, books and music albums. She describes herself as funny and righteous, with a 'go that extra mile' attitude. Her philosophy is quite simple: try to live life to the fullest Jenny writes that hr passion is books. She reads and reviews current and back-list literary fiction, crime fiction, thrillers, occasionally science fiction, and narrative nonfiction. She also loves music. She's a huge fan of The Maine and All Time Low! Joy is her favorite word and creativity is something she can't live without.

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