|Title:||The Hunger Games|
|Published:||2008, Scholastic Press|
|No. of Pages:||374|
|Cover Price:||$8.99 US|
Book one in the Hunger Games Trilogy, by bestselling young adult author Suzanne Collins, introduces Katniss Everdeen, who, although only 16, has survived and taken care of her mother and beloved sister, Prim - for the five years since her father was blown up in a mine - by hunting illegally with her best friend Gale. In this fantasy thriller, set in the country of Panem, which is located where North America had been before it was destroyed, Katniss lives in District 12, where Appalachia once was, where coal is mined, and where most of the residents are among the poorest of the entire country. There were once 13 districts, but District 13 staged a revolt against the Capital and was destroyed.
To remind the residents of the power of the Capital and the danger of revolting against them, they hold annually what is known as “The Hunger Games,” where two children between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district, a girl and a boy, are sent as tributes to fight to the death until one victor is named. The Capital treats it as a holiday, shows the cruel “games” on television, and generally makes a celebration of showing that they can take the resident’s precious children and nothing can be done about it. Everyone is required to be in the square at 2:00 on the day of what is called “the reaping,” where the names of the tributes are drawn. Unfortunately, Katniss’ little sister, 12 year old Prim’s, name is drawn, so Katniss volunteers to be the tribute rather than to let her little sister go to her death. The other tribute will be Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son.
After being allowed to say goodbye to family and friends, the tributes are transported by train to The Capital, where they are wined and dined (more rich and delicious food than Katniss has ever seen in her life), as well as presented to the country after being groomed by stylists. Katniss and Peeta have great stylists and make a debut with costumes that appear to be on fire; they draw the attention of the country, but aren’t favored to win since there are “career tributes” who have been training all of their lives to compete. Afterwards, they go to training with the tributes from the other districts where they learn survival skills. Once the games start, it is a fight to the death for the kids; the suspense is unnerving, and it is very difficult to put the book down until the surprise ending is revealed. Both Katniss and Peeta know that there can be only one victor, and even though they are from the same district, they don’t want to become friends since one of them may have to kill the other if one of the other tributes doesn’t do it first.
It’s no wonder that this book was made into a movie after hitting the bestseller lists; although it was written for young adults, The Hunger Games mesmerized both young adults and adults alike. Anyone who hasn’t read the book has cheated himself out of a great reading experience. The subject matter of the book is difficult, and it’s not easy to read about likeable characters who are starving, and in peril trying to stay alive. However, Collins handles it well, with innuendo of violence rather than blatant graphic violence throughout the novel. The underlying issues of corrupt government power, cruelty, greed, true friendship, importance of family ties, and loyalty are evident in this novel, and when finished it is one that is not easily forgotten. Obviously the subject matter is not for young children, and some of the incidents during the games could cause a few nightmares. However, The Hunger Games and the two subsequent books in the trilogy are absolute must-reads.
This book was purchased with personal funds and no promotion of the book was solicited by the author or publisher.
This book may be purchased at Amazon: The Hunger Games (Book 1)