The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Set in the future after some kind of cataclysm that's resulted in an elite ruling class exploiting the rest of the population, this has sixteen year-old Katniss volunteering to take her sister's place as a participant of the eponymous games, in which 24 youths are dropped in the wilderness and forced to compete until only one of them is left alive.

This was a A Good Read recommendation. I think on there they made much of the fact that a central theme of the book was Katniss' honourable decision to stand in for her sister, but that didn't seem to me to be such a significant point.

This is basically a variation of Bachman's The Long Walk, with shades of The Running Man, both of which I wouldn't mind reading again. I.e. it's not a fantastically original idea (and I see from looking this up subsequently that there's another even more similar story about kids fighting each other to the death by a Japanese(?) author who Collins has been accused of copying) - I suppose the USP is that it's aimed more at teenagers.

The book was very readable, and quite exciting. The customs and ceremonies that grow up around the games were good, so that a fair amount of the story is taken up with the preparations made by the "contestants" during the period after they've been chosen and before the games begin. And it was interesting that the players formed groups and alliances once the games began, rather than simply all playing for themselves.

There was never a lot of doubt as to how the book would end, although the overlords (and then Collins) do resort to some deus ex machina to get things working out in just the right way.

There are a couple of sequels and I might be tempted but I thought the book stood fairly well on its own.

Completed : 08-Jul-2013

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