“Seriously, I Will Read Your Book”
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Young adult author Suzanne Collins sends readers on a journey where one district rules over all and the Hunger Games is the ultimate reminder to keep you in your place.
The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Press (2008)
Back cover: In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.
Lara’s Review: Struggle and hardship defines Katniss Everdeen’s world. As a resident of District 12 she is the daughter of a coal miner. After her father dies in an accident she does whatever she can to put food on the table and take care of her mother sister. Even if it means hunting on the other side of the fence line. The skills she acquires come in handy when Katniss takes her sister’s place in the “The Hunger Games.” A challenge to the death that the Capitol has created to keep each District in their place.
At the writers conference this year I heard lots of praise for this book. So much, I began to wonder if it would fulfill my expectations. It did. I could not put it down. I finished it in a couple of days. The world Katniss lives is dire and horrific, but there were moments of beauty and compassion. Katniss’s struggles, inner and outer, made for such a compelling story.
“The Hunger Games” was the pivotal struggle in the book, but only one layer. The complexity of Katniss becoming aware of herself, her feelings, how others saw her, the competition and the power plays all fed into the overall theme. Killing is not the focus of the story. There are no parts of overly written blood and gore. It’s more about the struggle each District has and the grip the Capitol has over all of them.
I chatted with a woman who was leery of having their teen read this book. After reading it my first thought is: It’s better to experience that world, that struggle, in a book then in real life. There are always going to be hardships that happen in life. If we read about them, or experience them in books it builds on our compassion and empathy toward others. The classic book Lord of the Flies was a lot more disturbing to read, as some of the boys went completely feral and violence became second nature.
In The Hunger Games, the kids are forced to kill. While some of them are trained, it is the games/Capitol that start this, not their inner nature. This story questions notions about freedom, liberty and happiness without politically shoving it in your face. It’s an undercurrent that weaves its way through the characters lives and reinforces the ideals we sometimes take for granted. If anyone asks I will tell them The Hunger Games is a must read.
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