The Hunger Games

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hungergames.jpg

Suzanne Collins

GENRES:
Action, Satire, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance

SUMMARY:
In the unspecified future after an unspecified world war (really, how many sci-fi books start this way?), teenagers are selected from a lottery and pitted against each other every year in a survival contest called The Hunger Games. As punishment for their uprising against the Capitol decades before, the citizens of each of the 12 outlying districts must sacrifice two teenagers each year to the games. The Hunger Games are treated as pure entertainment by citizens in the rich and influential Capitol. The less fortunate residents of the outlying districts, however, are forced to watch and feign interest while their neighbours and family fight to the death.

Katniss Everdeen is a 16-year old living in District 12, the poorest of the districts, with her mother and younger sister. After her father's death in a coal mining accident, she supports her family by hunting in the nearby forest with her friend Gale. On the day of the lottery for the Hunger Games, she trades place with her sister to protect her from almost certain death. Along with her fellow District 12 participant Peeta, she is whisked away to the Capitol to undergo makeovers and media training, all in preparation for her entrance into the Arena which will see her kill or be killed.

RESPONSE:
I'd heard a bit of hype about this book before reading it, and it was recommended to me by a friend as a good young adult sci-fi trilogy. Unfortunately, for me, the whole young adult fiction genre has recently been slightly tainted by the saccharine-soaked yet nonetheless addictive sap of Twilight. So I was basically expecting a sci-fi version of that. I should have more faith in my friend, and I'm proud to say I now have more faith in the young adult fiction genre.

This book was great - fast-paced, entertaining, gritty, and original (well, at least an original combination of elements). It is something I would have eaten up as a teenager... actually, it's something I've eaten up as an adult.

The most unique aspect of The Hunger Games was it's appeal to both sexes. Usually these kind of young adult novels are geared towards either girls or boys, usually based on the protaganist. Think about it, you'd find very few boys reading Twilight (or at least admitting it), in part due to the above mentioned saccharin sap but also in part because the story is told from a female point-of-view. Not so The Hunger Games. Yes, the story is told from a female perspective; and yes, there is a glitzy sparkly makeover scene; and yes, there's even some romance. But this novel also has action, resourcefullness and some pretty brutal survival (and death) scenes that will appeal to pubescent boys who wouldn't be caught dead reading some of the other stuff in the young adult fantasy/sci-fi genre (at least in public).

Notwithstanding its impressive entertainment factor, The Hunger Games even provides a bit of social commentary on social injustice, celebrity culture, and entertainment based on other's misery.

POINT BLANK:
This book truly has something for everyone - a gripping survival tale with romance, action, social commentary. Oh, and a little makeover segment thrown in for good measure. After all, everyone loves sparkly ballgowns.

Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery'

My mom pointed out that the premise of The Hunger Games was very similar to a short story she read as a girl. Check it out here

It only takes 10 minutes to read and is well worth it.