When the name “Primrose Everdeen” is called out at the lottery, Katniss volunteers to take her younger sister’s place as District 12’s female participant of the annual Hunger Games, a cruel punishment and system of oppression created by the government that rules the fictional country Panem. As heroic as Katniss’ act may sound, she is not portrayed as an idealized heroine. She is aggressive, selfish and always keeps her guard up, no matter what.
Collins creates a dystopia where Panem is what is left of North America after wars and natural disasters. Panem consists of twelve districts (the thirteenth district was allegedly destroyed years ago, in the old days of rebellion) and the Capitol, from which the entire nation is controlled. While most inhabitants of the districts live in poverty and starvation, the inhabitants of the Capitol enjoy life in luxury and exuberance. Every year the Hunger Games are arranged. A boy and girl of each district are sent to the arena, where they are forced to fight for their survival until only one of them is left alive.
I admit I was a bit sceptical towards The Hunger Games at first, due to the terrifying concept of the Hunger Games themselves. Twenty four children, some of them young adults, are thrown into an arena filled with weapons and deadly traps, where they are forced to kill each other, for the amusement of the shallow citizens of the Capitol. All of these young characters will have to perish and our main character will probably have to kill some of them. We get to know some of them closely, we come to care about them, and all of them will have to die in order for Katniss to live. I did not know how I could possibly like this story, but I was proven wrong. Even if the concept of the Hunger Games is filled with horror, the story was really worth reading. It is worth reading because of the horror of the Hunger Games.
The story is very dark and it’s subject matter is dealt with seriously. Perhaps some of the deaths in the arena are only brushed upon and dealt with quickly, but that is a result of the first-person perspective. Since Katniss is our narrator we only get her view of the battlefield. Due to this, we never know what threat awaits her around the corner, which adds to the thrill of the story. The story was a real page turner and made me want to read the sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.