The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins (© 2008)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: YA Literature & Fiction
Subgenre: Social & Family Issues, Self-Esteem & Respect, YA Action & Adventure, Science Fiction
Panem, a country that rose from the ashes of what was once North America, is made up of twelve districts surrounding a gleaming Capitol. Seventy-four years ago, after a failed revolution, the districts surrendered and agreed to supply provisions to the Capital. From the districts, the citizens of the Capital receive energy, food, luxuries, and two teenage tributes for the annual Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death.
For Katniss Everdeen of District Twelve, her greatest fear is realized when her younger sister, Primrose, is selected as the female tribute, and she volunteers herself to take Prim’s place as a contestant in the Hunger Games.
The first time I heard about The Hunger Games was shortly before the movie hit theatres. My immediate response to the plot summary by a friend: A movie (from a book) about teenagers killing each other? Hmm. I think I’ll skip that one. It wasn’t until after my husband read the book on a business trip (at the recommendation of a co-worker’s husband on the same trip) and came home raving about it that I finally picked it up.
Then I couldn’t put it down. The Hunger Games begins with a subtle tension, draws you into its dystopian world and never really lets you go. Long after I finished the book (and books two and three), I found myself reflecting on issues and themes of The Hunger Games: Poverty, government control, standing up for what’s right and those you love, imbalance in society, violence and entertainment (to name a few). The story comes to life, making the experiences of Katniss, Gale, Peeta and their families, vivid and tangible through the masterful writing of Ms. Collins.
The Hunger Games is not for the faint of heart. It’s chock full of intense action, fascinating sci-fi creations and gruesome deaths. The story is, after all, about a death match between twenty-four teenagers. The imagery of Ms. Collins’ writing is amazing, and the world so believable you may find yourself having to extricate your mind and imagination from her creation when you must return to reality.
Perhaps one of the greatest feats of the book is taking imperfect characters and enchanting the reader with them so much so that even when you dislike them or disagree with their actions, you can’t help but keep reading. The characters are all well-crafted, and demonstrate growth and change through the book as a result of their experiences. That being said, from start to finish, Katniss, Peeta and Gale are consistently, frustratingly teenagers.
For this busy mom, reading (and re-reading) this book has provided as much entertainment as consideration about the world around me and a little reflection as to what lies ahead for my kids. Now, I know that they aren’t likely to ever encounter a situation as horrible as a fight-to-the-death televised event with twenty-three other teens. But I am very likely to have to watch them make mistakes, take risks and stumble. They will have to learn to pick themselves up and keep going, growing and learning to be more adult-like through it all. And I will be grateful it’s not with any government-created mutts on their heels.
Thanks for stopping by reading! Have you read The Hunger Games (triology or book one)? Sharing is caring and I’d love to know your thoughts, on this review and the book(s)!
May the good books be plentiful and happy trails!
Featured image: The Hunger Games cover; Book design by Phil Falco