The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Published: Scholastic Press (2008)
Pages: 374 (hardback)
The future is a scary place for 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen — she is poor and struggling to keep herself and her family alive.
In “The Hunger Games,” Suzanne Collins introduces a new world that is made up of 12 districts, all ruled by the Capitol. Every year, the Capitol holds the “Hunger Games,” a brutal event in which one male and one female from each district are forced to enter an arena that the Capitol completely controls. Everything from the landscape to the weather to living creatures are chosen by the citizens of the Capitol, who watch the event on television. The idea is that every contestant must kill one another, and the last one alive is the winner.
When Katniss’ younger sister is chosen to take part in the games, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Although Katniss has more abilities than her sister, she knows that she will have trouble staying alive for even a night, because there is always someone out to get her. In addition, her family, which has been destitute ever since her father’s death, will have trouble surviving during her absence.
Although Katniss is tough, she also has a softer side, as displayed when she volunteers for her sister in the games. The following passage describes her decision:
There must have been some mistake. This can’t be happening. Prim was one slip of paper in thousands! Her chances of being chosen so remote that I’d not even bothered to worry about her. Hadn’t I done everything?
“Prim!” The strangled cry comes out of my throat, and my muscles begin to move again. “Prim!” I don’t need to shove through the crowd. The other kids make way immediately allowing me a straight path to the stage. I reach her just as she is about to mount the steps. With one sweep of my arm, I push her behind me.
“I volunteer!” I gasp. “I volunteer as a tribute!”
This book deals with classism in a new way in its discussions of the rivalries between districts. Some districts are poor and some are rich, and each disgusts the others. However, Peeta, a boy who goes to the games with Katniss, is an exception. While Katniss and her family have to hunt for food because they are poor, Peeta’s family owns a bread shop in the district and never has to worry about starvation. Peeta and Katniss have always cared for each other: Peeta once kept Katniss and her family from starving to death by “accidentally” tossing a loaf of bread into the fire so that Katniss could have it.
“The Hunger Games” has a good balance between thought and action. In the beginning, Katniss spends a lot of time describing her feelings, but as the book moves on she switches focus to describe the action of the “Hunger Games.”
According to Amazon.com, this book is for young adults (ages 14 – 21) but an 11- or 12-year-old could handle it fine. However, I think that even adults would enjoy this book. Wonderfully written by Collins, it is so gripping and original you are not be able to put it down. Brave, smart and creative, “The Hunger Games” is truly amazing, and I can’t see how anyone could dislike it.
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