Somewhere in the expansive throes of the future, across a land once known as “North America,” lies a country, Panem. Led by the power-mad and appearance-obsessed Capitol, the country’s twelve districts are forced to offer up two “tributes,” or teenage sacrifices, to partake in the country-wide battle called The Hunger Games. The tributes are chosen by lottery (although one’s name can be entered as many times as one likes, in exchange for a tessera—a year’s worth of grain and oil to help support a poor family). In some countries, participation in the Games is an honor, as one’s district gets showered with money and food for an entire year, and eternal glory is thrust upon the winner. But when Katniss Everdeen, a poor but fiery citizen of District Twelve (the country’s poorest district), finds herself a tribute, her entire world comes crashing down. For you see, the Hunger Games are no ordinary reality show—the twenty-four tributes are placed in an arena in which they must fight to survive not only against the environment, but most of all, their fellow tributes. It is the duty of each tribute to kill as many of each other as they can, for the winner will be the one that is the last to survive as all others are dead.
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, was a positively riveting book. I felt my eyes were actually glued to the pages, and I finished it in a matter of hours because I found it so difficult to pry myself away. Filled with some astonishing twists and turns, the games themselves were nerve-wracking and heartbreaking, as Katniss would constantly have to remind herself that trusting anyone would result in pain as only one could win, but moreover, a smile and a knife in the back.
The scariest part, perhaps, is that the whole thing reads like a glorified reality show. Sure, it is government run and mandatory to watch—the government likes to remind the citizens just how at-their-mercy they are—but one has to think about how easily we watch reality shows that, by a stretch, were born from the same seed as the Hunger Games.
For Katniss and her fellow tributes, the reality show aspect means that they must be constantly putting on a good face, proving themselves to the audience who have placed bets on their lives, as well as trying to win sponsors who can send them gifts in dire situations.
I was so impressed by this book. It managed to effectively weave a futuristic sci-fi setting with a reality show that is hard to stop turning over in your head, with a commentary on image, as well as a love story. I can’t even weave that sentence to sound ordered or clear, yet Suzanne Collins managed to do so beautifully, creating a book that is a package of sheer suspense and delight.
The first of a trilogy, it has certainly caused a stir among both readers and professionals. Stephenie Meyer and Stephen King both gave rave reviews, and the rights to a movie have been already bought, with the author herself adapting it as a screenplay.
But even more exciting—there is something in which YOU can get involved! The author is hosting a competition in which teens can enter to win an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of the book’s sequel, Catching Fire. The entry consists of writing, in 500 words or less, how you would survive the Hunger Games. For more information, check out their website here.But hurry, because the contest ends May 15th!
Again, I absolutely loved this book, and am under the impression that everybody should read it. Unsurprisingly, I give it a whopping and wonderfully evil (oxymoron? no way-- Evil IS wonderful!) five daggers.
Relieved that OUR kind of evil is delightful rather than murderous,