The post-apocalyptic trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockinjay) takes place in Panem. Panem consists of the Capitol and twelve (formerly thirteen) poorer districts. All the districts are under strict supervision and surveillance from the Capitol. The Capitol residents live in extravagance, richly supplied with food, technology and possessions. In comparison, the other Districts suffer from famish, starvation and cruelty from the Peacekeepers.
To keep the citizens of Panem mindful of the control their State has over them, they are forced to selects two teens each year to compete in the Hunger Games – a closed off arena where only one person can exit alive – the one who managed to kill all the other contestants.
The series’ main protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, is from District 12. She keeps her family alive by illegally hunting with her best friend Gale in the woods. On the day of the Reaping, Katniss’ little sister Prim is chosen as the female tribute for District 12. Horror-struck, Katniss volunteers to save her sister from certain death. The male tribute from 12 is Peeta Mellark – a boy who saved Katniss from starvation years ago by tossing her burned bread.
The two head off to the Capitol. They are escorted by Haymitch Abernathy, the winner of the 50th Hunger Games, and the ridiculous Effie Trinket. Haymitch and Effie are responsible for informing the two how to proceed in the Hunger Games. Haymitch is constantly in a drunken stupor, but agrees to help the two when he realises that they could make a strong team.
Katniss is transformed by her stylist Cinna in time for her interviews in front of the entire Panem. The crowd is wowed by her and Peeta, especially after Peeta confesses that he is in love with her.
When the Hunger Games begin, Katniss heads off alone and tries to let the other tributes take each other out before she has to interfere. She survives starvation and burns, and manages to kill some of the Careers – people who train especially to partake in the Hunger Games, by setting Trackerjackers loose on them when they think they have her cornered. She finally finds an ally in little Rue, from District Eleven, but Rue is killed by another Tribute a few days later.
When they receive an announcement that two tributes are allowed to live at the end of the Games if they come from the same District, Katniss starts searching for Peeta. She finds him desperately injured, and tries to heal him. To save him, she needs to head to a battleground where medicine will be waiting. She nearly dies at the hand of a vicious Tribute, but Thresh, the male Tribute from Rue’s District, saves her as thanks for helping Rue. She manages to save Peeta, and together they start hunting together.
Will the devious Capitol keep true to their promises? And will Katniss and Peeta ever make it out alive – and in love?
This world-wide success really deserves its fortunes. It is well written, horrifying, and truly addictive. The book probably became so successful because the story is plausible, and has roots in history. People already are in the “survival-of-the-fittest” mode. A transition like this, where people are addicted to watching teens kill each other in arenas, isn’t that farfetched.
Katniss Everdeen: Sullen, a forced provider, and bad tempered. If I had to hunt every day to feed my family, I might turn into the same person. However, her blindness towards Peeta’s feelings is the worst. It gets worse in the other two books, where she has to deal with her attraction towards Gale and Peeta, so she is the most tolerable in book one.
Peeta Mellark: I am always a little bit in love with Peeta. He is so selfless and kind. Katniss really doesn’t deserve his unconditional love. He proves himself to be clever and courageous when he hooks up with the Careers to protect Katniss, and stubborn (which isn’t actually a bad quality in a person) when he fights with Katniss for going to the Cornucopia to get the person. I really think he is well written, and has more depth than the other characters.
Gale Hawthrone: Between Peeta and Gale, I find Gale slightly more appealing as he is such a fierce fighter and injustice angers him. He is rough around the edges, and his softer side is only obvious when he is with Katniss, and even then he is a difficult man. Both he and Katniss are edgy, mostly because of the life they live in the poorer part of District 12 – that is where Peeta has the disadvantage of not completely understanding where she coming from.
I read the series to see what the hype was about, and I am really thankful I did. I would recommend it to everyone – it is shocking and scary and impossible to put down.