I’m not used to reading first person present tense, but Suzanne Collins makes an artform of it. I barely have time to register the style before I’m quickly swept into the story. The hook is found at the end of the first paragraph. Even though in later pages Collins takes a moment to describe the surroundings and pause the action, her descriptions are vivid and succinct.
I understand these novels fall into the category of Young Adult, though it is a very complex, rich and mature story. I haven’t been a young adult for a very long time, but I enjoyed these books in a way that many lovers of dystopian speculative fiction would, regardless of age. The main plot is about the primary character’s experiences – Katniss Everdeen – but there is a political undercurrent that cannot be ignored positioned at the beginning. It promises a depth that it delivers on, and explains all that you need to know to understand what is going on and entices you with a little bit more information that implies a great deal but isn’t clarified until necessary. The books are a wonderful tapestry of story telling, whereas I imagine any summary of the plot would feel two dimensional.
Relationships ring true in this tale – the hard work of making a necessary connection, the impossibility to label what a person means to you, the disappointment or the inspiration of how others can affect you with a few thoughtless/thoughtful words. The instinct we all have to survive against the odds, how our upbringing and family life affects us. Our impression of others and how we judge them. Our impression of ourselves and our insecurities. It’s all there, shown and not told.
For all those readers who’ve avoided the Hunger Games because of its Young Adult category (or whatever reason), I implore you to pick it up and have a look at the first few pages. You’ll be delightfully surprised.