Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

After disasters, droughts and storms, fires, rising seas, and the resulting war for what little remained, this futuristic North America became one nation, Panem. Thirteen districts surrounding the Capitol. Then, when the districts rose against the Capitol, twelve were defeated, one was obliterated, and the Treaty of Treason was established to guarantee peace and remind the people of Panem to never again return to the Dark Days.

The Hunger Games is their reminder. Part reality TV, part Roman gladiator games, all horrific, the Hunger Games are a yearly event in which the twelve districts each send two randomly selected tributes, one male, one female, both teenagers, to participate. After brief training, participants are released in a large wilderness area known as the arena. Imagine Survivor where contestants aren’t voted off the island. They’re killed. But like Survivor, there is only one winner. All of it is televised – required viewing in all of Panem, in fact – and the Capitol’s message is clear. “Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just like we did in District Thirteen.”

At sixteen, Katniss Everdeen becomes District Twelve’s female tribute. She has grown up sneaking outside District Twelve’s borders and hunting with homemade weapons. Her daily life, while mostly illegal, has prepared her for individual survival. But against others? To the death?

Katniss is sent to the Capitol with District Twelve’s other tribute. She receives the training and participates in the pregame festivities, televised events meant to introduce the contestants, encourage wagering, and an opportunity for the tributes to earn sponsors, or people who use their financial resources to send contestants supplies during the contest. All too soon the Hunger Games begins.

What follows is Katniss’s attempt to find dignity amidst death. To use love while surrounded by hate. While some tributes actively hunt and kill the opponents, Katniss focuses mainly on her own survival. The further she and the other surviving contestants make it, the more the Gamemakers work to drive them together. Fires, floods, cold, supplies, emotions – all are used to force tributes to engage one another. All the while, Katniss attempts to avoid becoming the murderous monster that makes for great TV, from the Capitol’s perspective, anyway.

It’s been a while since a book has demanded my attention like The Hunger Games. It is intense. But should it be recommended to younger readers? Well, not elementary readers, but certainly young adults. The action will hold readers by itself, most definitely, but with a parent’s or teacher’s guidance, the politics of the book could come alive. Is this a future we face? Are we that far away? Can the good in our world and in each individual outweigh the evil? It’s a stretch, but Suzanne Collins does an excellent job of connecting the dots of today’s world and form a possible future. Readers will look forward to the story’s resolution in the upcoming books. Can a nation built on fear continue to survive, or will the actions of young adults show the people of Panem what they can become, despite what their government leaders insist? Readers won’t want to wait to find out.


  1. Loved this! Just wanted to let you know that I linked to your review here: Random Wonder

  2. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the link.

  3. LOved this book, after I got over the premise. Her other boks the Ovelander series anre great as well. She really knows how to suck a reader in.


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