Despite the frenzy of enthusiasm surrounding this trilogy, it's taken me ages to get around to starting it. I think it was just a bit of scepticism on my part that any series could be quite as good as the blogosphere was trying to make me believe.
I know that I shouldn't admit this but it was actually seeing the film trailer that made me pick up a copy. I went from just not being overly bothered about reading it to being pretty darn keen to get hold of a copy in the space of a 30 second trailer. The next thing I knew, I was stood in Waterstones in Leeds, staring at their pretty display and trying to resist the urge to buy it. I didn't do a very good job.
Thankfully, the world was right: this is one seriously good book.
Seeing as I'm probably one of the last people in the world to read this, I'm not going to write out a 'proper' review. Instead, these are my favourite things about The Hunger Games:
1. Katniss Everdeen
The disadvantage to being so late to the party was that I had already noticed that everybody seemed to be in love with Katniss. I also sort of knew that she was going to step into her sister's place in the Hunger Games (although that might have also been mentioned on the back of my copy, I can't quite remember...). As with the book as a whole, I was pretty cynical about Katniss being the strong female character that she was lauded as after being lead down that road before only to find a female character that was strong as long as she had her boyfriend at her side.
Pleasant surprise #1: Katniss really is a fantastic YA character. I wasn't convinced early on but definitely came around
2. Political undertones that aren't shoved in your face
Dystopian societies with gross social imbalances are not new. Pure, for example, is a stark example of the idea that I read earlier in the year. What The Hunger Games did well that Pure didn't do was look at the dichotomy without making me feel unwell. It worth saying again: there is something tremendously disturbing about the privileged residents of the Capitol forcing children to fight each other to the death for their entertainment. It sounds ludicrous to us but ancient civilisations loved it so I suppose it's horribly accurate in some way. I'm intrigued to see how that pans out.
3. The sheer force of the story that made me unable to put it down
There are books that, while not fantastically written, just have something about them that compels readers to keep going. I suppose you could argue that that is fantastic writing. Whichever way you look at it, I love feeling so caught up in a story that I will do almost anything to keep reality at bay. In The Hunger Games' case, Boyfriend was staying over at his friends so I read half, fell asleep, woke up and read the second half. I was starving but had to finish before I went and made breakfast. There are few things that I will postpone eating for. That this book was one of them is praise indeed.
I know that I haven't mentioned everything but those are the elements that stick in my mind. If you haven't already read it, I am both happy that I'm NOT the last person to have read it in the world and sad for you.
And yes, I have already bought Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Bring on more Panam!