The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
“The Hunger Games” is set in a dystopian future/alternate present(?) of the United States. Instead of the country with which we are familiar, now all that is left is Capitol City and 13 districts surrounding it. Oh, except that District 13 was annihilated when the districts attempted to revolt against the Capitol as a show of the Capitol’s power.
After the ill-fated rebellion, the Capitol instituted the Hunger Games to remind the districts of their power on a yearly basis. Each year, one girl and one boy are selected from each district to participate, with the odds of being chosen ‘favoring’ older kids from poorer families. Kat’s family is certainly poor since her father, a miner, died, but she never imagined that her younger sister would be selected as a representative, a ‘tribute’ in the games. When Prim is selected, Kat volunteers to take her place without even thinking and is thrust into the world of the games, an arena in which 24 teenagers compete to survive and to kill off their competition, to be the last person standing and be the champion, all televised for the enjoyment/subjugation of the populace.. Think Survivor meets The Running Man meets The Most Dangerous Game.
Against her better judgment, Kat ends up in an alliance with Peeta, the boy tribute from her district, playing at being star-crossed lovers to win the approval of the audience and a greater possibility of sponsors and gifts that will help her survive. As her feelings for Peeta become more complicated, so too does the thought of her possibly having to kill him in order to survive and win the games.
I knew all along that I was enjoying the book, although I didn’t really pick up on just how much I was enjoying it until it ended (the fact that I read the whole thing in 24 hours during the work week should have clued me in). I suppose I was too caught up in it to even realize that I was so caught up in it. When Collins left me with her cliffhanger ending, I wanted to yell “no!” and curse the fact that the sequel, “Catching Fire,” won’t be out until September. “Catching Fire” isn’t even in my library’s system yet, so I’m currently checking every day, waiting for it to be added so I can get at the front of the holds list. However, I’m actually tempted to go ahead and preorder “Catching Fire” from Amazon, something I’ve only ever done with the last Harry Potter book, because I just want that badly to read it. (Okay, since I wrote this, “Catching Fire” DID become available at my library, I’m the 8th hold on 5 copies, although I’m still tempted to preorder this, Harry Potter 7-style).
“The Hunger Games” is a young adult book, but with enough depth, character development, and excitement for adults. I’d tell you to go read it now, but perhaps you should put it off until September, when you can jump straight from “The Hunger Games” to “Catching Fire.”