Collins, Suzanne – The Hunger Games, Book One
After the botched, painfully bad Twilight became the lead sci-fi/fantasy series and a massive cultural phenomenon, I and others like me were left profoundly disturbed by how a book so poorly written and with such misogynistic undertones could be so widely embraced. Young girls across the world were lapping up a romance where the heroine sits around pining for an entire book trying to kill herself and where the lead hunk disables her car to prevent her from seeing her friends.
This in mind, meet Suzanne Collins and her fierce, tough lead Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is a girl living in a post-apocolyptic future where America has become “Panem,” comprising of twelve districts that starve and suffer for the sake of an opulent and sadistic capital. To keep everyone in line, the capital pulls two teens (a boy and a girl) from each district to fight to the death for their televised amusement. Katniss takes the place of her younger sister in the game and is sent towards almost certain doom.
Collins is able to do what all young-adult writers should: she tells a compelling and complex tale with clarity and word economy. Her purpose is never confusing or overwrought or burdened by simplistic concepts of good and evil. At the same time her characters are dynamic enough and her plot thrilling enough to stand side-by-side with the best contemporary adult writers.
The first novel in the Hunger Games trilogy is great beach reading for adults and a wonderful introduction to literature for young adults.