At some point in the future the United States of America will cease to exist. In its place will be a unified North American government. That will eventually be ripped apart by rebellion which will destroy vast swaths of land and leave the people living in 13 districts.
As a reminder to the people that rebellion will never succeed, and a reminder that the Capitol has total power over its citizens, the Capitol has a game every year. The rules are simple—fight to the death.
Such is the story of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Each year two tributes are picked from each district; two children between the ages of 12-18 are randomly picked to play a gladiator style game where the last person alive is the winner. The Hunger Games is narrated by Katniss Everdeen, a 15 year old girl from district 12. Though she is a skilled hunter in the forest, she knows she will not have good odds of surviving, especially when the boy from her district, Peeta, is so much larger than she. She also knows that other districts have tributes who have trained for years to be killers.
Katniss is determined to survive, though. As she tells her story, she reveals that she is distant, emotionally cold, and very calculating. She carefully considers each and every action by how it will affect her survival. Still, she is very likeable and you will root for her survival, even though it means watching her kill other teenagers. The reader, like the characters, has to walk an intense, fine line between rooting for a winner, (while watching other children be murdered) feeling the excitement of battle, (while understanding that it is simply a tool used by the government to maintain power) and maintaining a human connection (even though it is clear that the game must be played).
Katniss is such an honest and engaging narrator that you can’t help but be drawn into her world. She tells you the events in the present tense (a remarkable stylistic device) which creates the sense of urgency and speed that will rush you along.
This book is amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I’ll give you a minute to rush out and get your own copy. (Costco now sells The Hunger Games in paperback, or you could click on the link below and purchase this book from Amazon!)
Okay, got your copy? Good, now read it because the story continues in book two of the trilogy, Catching Fire. This book is as good as the first. I must be careful, however, about how much I say because I don’t want to give away anything about how the first book ends. Just know that as soon as Laura finished the first she jumped into the second. So did I. So did my mother-in-law. So did my mother. So will you too. Just know that it will not disappoint.
Finished book two? Well, I’ve got more good news for you. Book three, Mockingjay, is going to be released this week so you won’t have to wait for the conclusion like the rest of us did.
Have I mentioned that this is a great series? It is. A pesky colleague recommended it. I hemmed, I hawed, she threatened my life, and so I read it. (Well, that's not really how it went but that's how I'm going to remember it.) As a high school reading teacher, I've read quite a bit of Young Adult literature. Some of it is enjoyable enough, but let's face it, it is written for 12-17 year olds. But The Hunger Games is a new force in the Young Adult genre. This is a book for mom, dad, and the kids. Everyone will enjoy it. (And there are no sparkling vampires-so it is a dozen times better than any other YA books on the market.) It was so good that Laura and I bought our own copies of these books. Our copy of Mockingjay has been preordered and should be delivered next week. We can’t wait.
Okay, your turn. Once you’ve read the series tell me what you think. Leave your comments below.