September, 2008. 384 pages, Scholastic Press, hardcover, $9.75
(978-0439023481) Young Adult
Seventeen-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives on the border of starvation in District 12 of what used to be
North America. Ever since her father’s death, Katniss has been barely keeping herself, her twelve-year-old sister Prim, and their mother fed by her forbidden hunting practices. But on one terrible reaping day that all changes.
There used to be 13 Districts, but when they rebelled against the extremely controlling Capitol, District 13 was completely wiped out. To prevent the Districts from stepping out of line again, the Capitol runs Hunger Games. Once a year, two children, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, are selected from each District and thrown into a televised arena in a battle to the death.
When Prim's name is selected for the battle, Katniss, being the protective older sister, volunteers to go in her place. To win over the hearts of the crowd, the clever trainers for District 12 devise a plan where Katniss will pretend to fall in love with Peeta, the boy selected from her District. There can be only one survivor in this game, though, and Katniss spends the pages avoiding danger after danger while trying to keep her head and her heart focused on a plan she can vaguely remember.
In essence, The Hunger Games is a nail-biting, hard-to-put-down story about teenagers killing each other, while the Districts are forced to watch, to ensure District loyalty. I hated the residents of the Capitol almost immediately—watching them primp in their futuristic world where food, medicine and glamour are all at the touch of a button while the Districts are starving with limited electricity and harsh laws.
Definitely not for younger children, The Hunger Games balances precariously between love and violence.
Once you get past the annoyingly-weird names, the story holds its own. Well written, fast paced and full of action, I held my breath, stayed up late reading, and the instant I closed the book I was online looking for the sequel. Good stuff!