Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date: September 14, 2008
In the future, North America’s children are selected in what is called a “Reaping” to become contestants in the Hunger Games tournament. The main character Katniss is distraught to hear her younger sister Prim has been selected and instead insists that she takes Prim’s place. Katniss is paired up with another member of her district 12 community, a boy named Peeta who has loved Katniss since she was five. Both Katniss and Peeta will embark in a dangerous Hunger Games tournament where there will be a fight to the death among each other to determine the winner.
Collins created a terrifying, nail biting and suspenseful science fiction novel with strong characters. You read the story through Katniss’s narration. You will connect with all the characters in the Hunger Games tournament due to their struggle of survival. Even though Katniss wins, the author did a good job presenting the toll this had on her mental state. For example, on page 348, “I startled when I catch someone staring at me from only a few inches away and then I realize it’s my own face reflecting back in the glass. Wild eyes, hollow cheeks, my hair in a tangled mat. Rabid. Feral. Mad. No wonder everyone is keeping a safe distance from me” (Collins, 2008). The connection made from a child who just survived the most violent atrocities leaves you with goose bumps. Courtney Elrod of Children’s Literature commented, “The futuristic and horrific elements of the novel provide unique and intense components to the setting and the characters, but these elements could turn away readers uninterested in these images as they are graphic and terrifying.”
The setting of the story takes place in a futuristic arena which is controlled by the game makers. Everything from the weather, violence, food, water and medical supplies are controlled while the civilian population watches each terrifying or romantic sequence unfold via television. Reality TV in extreme cruelty! This book will keep readers engaged to the very end to read how far human nature will go in order to survive. Fans will eagerly want to read the sequel.
Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Spring 2009):
"Katniss volunteers to represent her district in the Hunger Games, a compulsory, government-sponsored reality-TV show from which only one of twenty-four teenage contestants will emerge alive. A fierce, resourceful competitor, Katniss also displays great compassion and vulnerability. The twists and turns are addictive in this compulsively readable blend of science fiction, romance, and social commentary. Category: Older Fiction. 2008, Scholastic, 374pp, 17.99. Ages 12 to 14. Rating: 1: Outstanding, noteworthy in style, content, and/or illustration" Retrieved from the Children's Literature Database (accessed on October 25, 2009).
Francisca Goldsmith (Booklist, Sep. 1, 2008 (Vol. 105, No. 1))*Starred Review*:
"This is a grand-opening salvo in a new series by the author of the Underland Chronicles. Sixteen-year-old Katniss poaches food for her widowed mother and little sister from the forest outside the legal perimeter of District 12, the poorest of the dozen districts constituting Panem, the North American dystopic state that has replaced the U.S. in the not-too-distant future. Her hunting and tracking skills serve her well when she is then cast into the nation’s annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death where contestants must battle harsh terrain, artificially concocted weather conditions, and two teenaged contestants from each of Panem’s districts. District 12’s second “tribute” is Peeta, the baker’s son, who has been in love with Katniss since he was five. Each new plot twist ratchets up the tension, moving the story forward and keeping the reader on edge. Although Katniss may be skilled with a bow and arrow and adept at analyzing her opponents’ next moves, she has much to learn about personal sentiments, especially her own. Populated by three-dimensional characters, this is a superb tale of physical adventure, political suspense, and romance. Grades 9-12" Retrieved from the Children's Literature Database (accessed on October 25, 2009).
Children's Choice Book Award, 2009.
Indies Choice Book Award, 2009.
You can access a discussion guide by clicking on: http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/collateral.jsp?id=36164 (accessed October 25, 2009).
Other books of interest:
Catching Fire. By Suzanne Collins. Publisher: Scholastic. Date: 2009. ISBN: 9780439023498.
A Darkling Plain. By Philip Reeve. Publisher: Harper Collins. Date: 2007. ISBN: 9780060890551.