It has a strong female protagonist who acts as the catalyst for several events in the book. The main characters are well-drawn out and the world-building is excellent. The tone of the novel reflects its gruesome contents, making The Hunger Games one of the best Young Adult novels released in recent times.
Terrors of a Totalitarian Regime
The minute we start reading The Hunger Games, it becomes clear that we are no longer dealing with the world as we know it today. We enter the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem where the autocratic President Snow has taken control, and there is no freedom anymore – merely the illusion of it remains.
This is revealed to us at the beginning when we are introduced to the history of Panem by the Mayor of District 12 during the reaping. A great amount of world-building occurs here, as we are provided information regarding the 13 districts, their rebellion, their punishment, and subsequently, the birth of the Hunger Games.
Throughout the novel, we are shown the callous nature of those at The Capitol who care for nothing other than their luxury and comfort – and of course, the suffering of those at the districts. Watching the tributes fight amongst themselves to the death every single year is what they live for, and what provides flavor and excitement in their superficial and heartless lives.
President Snow appears benevolent but is actually ruthless. He will stop at nothing to maintain control. Everything he does is aimed at expressing dominance, to remind the people in the districts that the Capitol always wins. Most people in the districts have either accepted their fate or have resigned themselves to a life of misery. Those in the wealthier districts have deluded themselves into thinking that they are the Capitol’s favorite, which gives cause for tension throughout the novel.
All of this showcases a totalitarian regime, but one of the major drawbacks of the novel is the fact that it does not go into detail. It is written in a matter-of-fact and superficial manner which does not quite capture the gravity of the content. Nevertheless, it achieves the kind of world-building that is required for the readers to understand the plot, and sets the foundation for the sequels well.
The Spark Lit by Katniss Everdeen
The entire story is narrated by the 16-year-old protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. As such, the novel is in the first-person point of view – something which allows us to experience the horrors of the Hunger Games first-hand.
We are privy only to those things that are related to Katniss, and as a teenager who has had to take on the role of primary provider early in life, there is not much on her mind other than keeping her family alive.
As such, the novel is more about Katniss and her thoughts, feelings, and actions per se than it is about the Hunger Games themselves. We understand the Games from her unique perspective – one that is disgusted by the Capitol and laced with sarcasm and irony.
However, this is not how others in the novel treat the Hunger Games. For instance, the Career tributes have made it their life’s mission to excel at the hideous Games concocted by the Capitol, while those at the Capitol itself revel in the mass killings that take place.
On the contrary, Katniss’s fury at the injustice of the Games grows steadily (and subconsciously) until it ends with her “trick” with the berries. Although Katniss’s only hope behind consuming the berries was to be left alive with Peeta, the very fact that she thought of killing herself is a mark of her awareness, as well as her subtle forms of rebellion.
Katniss undergoes a remarkable change in the short period it takes to complete the Hunger Games, and she transforms from someone who cares only about her family to someone who is deeply affected by the injustice of the Capitol. There is even a point when she thinks of the death of a tribute as “murder.” She reflects on the word the minute it crosses her mind, ultimately concluding that it is a fitting word to use in the situation.
Katniss has a fire within her that is longing to burst forth. Coincidentally, she becomes the “Girl on Fire” with the help of Cinna’s creations but the references to fire do not stop there. Katniss seems to spark a fire that spreads throughout the nation of Panem with everything she does. The spark she ignites provides an unpleasant jolt to the people of the Capitol, while it acts as a beacon of hope to those in the districts. Soon, Katniss becomes the person who everyone in Panem admires and looks up to, whether she wants them to or not.
The plot of The Hunger Games is brilliantly set forth and moves at a breathtakingly quick speed. This is more than enough to sustain the reader’s interest till the end. However, the novel is a little lacking in terms of characters. No character other than Katniss is fully developed, other than through the thoughts and feelings that Katniss has about them.
You might think that her relationships are better explained but this is not the case either. We do not really know much about her relationships with her sister, Prim, who is the very reason for all of the events in the novel. We know that Katniss loves Prim and would sacrifice almost everything for her, including herself, but we do not fully understand why.
Similarly, the other characters in the novel are not provided space for their own development. This is the case for Peeta Mellark, Katniss’s co-tribute and love interest as well as President Snow, the main antagonist of the novel.
All of this could be attributed to the fact that The Hunger Games caters to a younger audience, i.e., young adults, but the novel is still missing some crucial character development.
The Final Pages of The Hunger Games
The concluding pages of the novel credit Suzanne Collins’ ability to hook the reader in. She introduces several twists in the novel, with the final one taking everyone by surprise. The reader is taken on a rollercoaster, where they are given hope (much like the characters themselves) that both Katniss and Peeta would survive, and subsequently given to despair as that hope is snatched away by the Gamemakers.
Ultimately, however, Katniss and Peeta end up surviving, and they come back home. The concluding pages also set the foundation for the sequel which is based on the Capitol’s fury at Katniss’s rebellion. Lastly, we are left with the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale, which takes shape in the next novel, Catching Fire.
Thus, the last pages of the novel act as a spark, much like Katniss herself, for the trilogy of The Hunger Games as a whole.
Did they kill Cinna?
Cinna remains alive by the end of The Hunger Games book 1. However, due to his transgressions in Book 2, where he creates a deceptive Mockingjay outfit for Katniss, he is tortured and killed.
Is Cinna in love with Katniss?
No, Cinna is not in love with Katniss. As her stylist, it is Cinna’s job to make Katniss look appealing to the public. He sees Katniss naked many times, but he looks at her body only professionally (to assess the outfits she needs to wear) and never romantically.
Who is Haymitch to Katniss?
Haymitch is Katniss’s mentor in the 74th and 75th Hunger Games. He is an alcoholic who drowns his sorrows in drink, but comes to care for Katniss very deeply. He tries his best to keep Katniss alive both times she’s in the arena.
Did Katniss ever love Gale?
Katniss does love Gale, but only as a friend. Though Gale confesses that he loves her, Katniss never viewed him as a romantic partner. She is closer to him than anyone else because of their hunting and poaching days, until she forms a bond with Peeta.
The Hunger Games Review: A True Young Adult Dystopian Fiction
Lasting Effect on the Reader
The Hunger Games review
The Hunger Games is a highly memorable young adult dystopian fiction. It is one of a kind and deals with several important themes that are relevant even in our world. The plot and pace of the novel are praiseworthy. It is commendable in terms of world-building and leaves an impression on the reader in an unsettling and uncanny manner. However, character development is weak and superficial.
- Incredible plot and setting
- Relevant despite being unsettling
- Good world-building
- Provides an immersive experience through the use of a first-person point of view
- Characters other than the protagonist are not well-developed
- Lazy writing at times
- Falls prey to the clichéd love triangle