Be forewarned, The Hunger Games is part of a projected trilogy, and the next installment isn't released until September '09. Store that away. It's important. Because you're gonna want the sequel--pronto.
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survived.
I was supposed to pack this book and read it on the plane, but I had to take a tiny peek last night ... then at 3 am, I finally closed the last page. You'd think I'd have learned by now.
Sometimes, five stars jump out at you. Other times, as with The Hunger Games, you waver a moment, then go with a four. The Hunger Games kept me reading into the wee sma's, but lacked that intangible something that dips a novel's colors a third time, and comes up dripping brilliant-beyond-brilliant depths of purple.
As futuristic novels go, it was a bit hard to keep the advanced setting in mind, because so much of the novel took place in primitive surroundings. On the other hand, most stories set in the future assume that science and technology will never stop furthering civilization. Ms. Collins presents a world where dreams of utopia have been utterly lost.
Like a light bulb in the last minutes of its life, there were times when the light sputtered and the story's strength faltered. Unlike dying power, however, Ms. Collins' novel is fresh from the box: she's just warming up. I warned you at the beginning ... when you reach the last page, you'll be perishing for next September's Catching Fire.
As the first in a series, The Hunger Games is full of promise for sequels that will equal--perhaps even surpass--it in conflict, development and satisfaction.
Let the games begin!