Science Fiction

The Hunger Games

Written By: Suzanne Collins

Published By: Scholastic Press
 

Reviewed by Dorothy Doremus
 

            I was hosting a dinner party for the holidays when a conversation about what we were reading was begun.  One of my guests had just finished reading The Hunger Games and said this was a book not to be skipped over.  I was a little skeptical because I donít usually read a lot of teen fiction.  One day, I was scrolling through the books available on Amazon.com and noticed The Hunger Games was available for a great price.  Never one to pass up on a bargain, I purchased a copy and began my adventure in Panem, the future North America.

            The story begins with teenager Katniss Everdeen, the bread winner of her family which consists of her mother and younger sister Prim.  Katnissí father was a coal miner in their district until he died in an explosion in the mines.  Every day Katniss and her best friend Gale sneak under the fences that surround District 12 to hunt and gather food in the woods.  Food is a rare commodity in the districts and to have fresh meat is a treat also useful for trading.  Katniss trades plenty of squirrels with the local baker in exchange for fresh bread.  The bakerís son, Peeta, is so kind to Katniss, it leaves a lasting impression on her. 

            Soon it is the day of the Reaping in District 12, a time where the names of persons under the age of eighteen are drawn to participate in the Hunger Games.  Each person is required to have an entry.  However, in exchange for some small, and not so great, rations, you can submit your name more than once.  Katniss has entered her name about ten times, but Prim is now of age to be selected as well and this greatly concerns Katniss.

            The families gather together at the square with their children and the names are drawn.  To Katnissí horror, Primís name is called.  Katniss quickly volunteers to go in her sisterís place.  The next name called is that of Peeta, the bakerís son.  After the Reaping, the candidates are put on a train with their instructors, one drunken coach named Haymitch and stylist Cinna.  Peeta and Katniss are groomed, clothed and given an abundance of food that they could only dream of consuming in their district.

            The train enters the capital and the training and grooming continue alongside chosen members from other districts.  Haymitch tries to play down the skills of his team.  Katniss, however, loses her temper and fires an arrow at an apple one of the sponsors is about to consume.  She believes she is now doomed, but this action left a lasting impression and ranks her skills as 11 out of a possible 12, making her favored to win and extremely dangerous.  Haymitch takes a liking to Peeta, instructing him to play up a romantic crush he has on Katniss, a crush Katniss believes is only a ploy to garner the favor of the audience and sponsors.

            The games begin and the individual district members scramble for weapons and cover.  Katniss and Peeta go their separate ways.  The Hunger Games only allows for one winner and that is achieved by killing your opponents.  Katniss follows Haymitchís advice, finding water and cover.  Soon, she is hunting for food, keeping cover in trees overnight.

            One night, a young girl named Rue from District 11 saves Katnissí life by warning her about the deadly wasp nests in her sleeping tree.  The two become fast friends as Rue reminds Katniss of her sister Prim.  The murder of Rue nearly breaks Katniss, but a change in the rules allows for two contestants from one district to win as a couple.  Katniss realizes she must find Peeta so they could win, but soon realizes that Peeta has been injured badly.  Playing up the romance to the audience, Katniss receives much needed medical and food supplies.

            Now the hunt begins to eliminate the rest of the players. The end comes in a rather dramatic fashion as the Capitol throws the players a major curve in the game.  There are a couple of shockers in The Hunger Games that will keep you guessing, but I did find myself enjoying the first book of The Hunger Games series.  The characters were really cool.  Katniss was one badass character.  I loved how she was the fearless bread winner in her family.  I also thought her use of the bow and arrow was quite a cool concept.

            I went into reading this book with some skepticism, but left a fan.  I cannot wait to read the rest of the series.  There is a lot of violence and complex feelings in The Hunger Games, so I would recommend it to older teenagers and adults.  The Hunger Games is a great book, well-worth the price I paid.

 

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