Sunday, October 4, 2009
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games Book #1) by Suzanne Collins
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
I resisted reading this book for such a long time, even with the great reviews. Just the idea of 24 teenagers being forced into a contest where only one will end up alive and be crowned the winner left a bad taste in my mouth. But something funny happened when I started reading - after the first few pages, I was completely hooked. Collins' narrative was compelling, even when documenting the life and death situations.
The world of Katniss and Peeta is totally different from the world we live in today. The Capital now rules the world and surviving territories have been divided up into Districts. Katniss and Peeta are from District 12, the coal mining district. Every year on "reaping day," all the children age 12 to 18 are entered for the Hunger Games, a mandatory event sponsored by the Capital. One boy and one girl are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games.
Basically, the Hunger Games pits 24 children (tributes) against each other, gathering them all in one arena to test their survival skills. This is like some messed up, futuristic reality show - the contestants are on camera 24 hours a day and people watch the games from the comfort of their homes. Bets are made on the winning tribute and sponsors are gathered by how well each tribute participates.
This book was incredibly entertaining, but very disturbing on many levels. The storyline is brutal, although much of the violence is off screen. This story is for young adults because the main characters are teenagers, but parents may want to think about the violence. In my opinion, the violence probably rates as PG-13. However, there is very little physical romance, no gratuitous foul language and no drinking or drug abuse. The characters show great depth of emotional maturity and they are people you are eager to learn more about.
Collins has given us a different kind of story that layers fantasy and fun with underlying morals and consequences. I had trouble putting this book down. From the first chapter I wanted to zoom through and find out what was happening with the strong female character of Katniss. Thankfully, this is the first book in a new series, so we will get to follow Katniss' adventures into the future.
This is a great read and deserves a permanent place in any home library. The next book in the series, CATCHING FIRE, is now available.