In preparation for the release of the first movie, I just finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for the fourth time. Ryan encouraged me to post a review here on NazNet - especially with the popularity of the movie - to help those who may still be unfamiliar with the series.
This book is the first in a series of three and introduces us to a futuristic world in which the government of the United States has defeated the rebellious populace and instituted complete rule. There is a capitol located somewhere in the Rockies - populated with rich and pampered people - and twelve districts in various places around the country where the people produce goods and services for the government. For example, the main characters come from district 12: located somewhere in Appalachia, and responsible for the mining of coal.
In order to remind the districts of their position of weakness under the government, once a year, there is a "reaping" where one boy and one girl are chosen from each district to compete in the "Hunger Games." The contestants are all placed in a massive arena controlled by the "game makers" and are forced to survive terrible fates and fight one another to the death. The winning contestant ("tribute") brings honor and some provision to their district.
Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are chosen from district 12 and forced to the capitol. They enter the games and seek to survive. There is a twist in that Peeta loves Katniss and the game makers, in an attempt to keep the television audience in the capitol interested, make a rule that two tributes can win if they are both from the same district. The book focuses on the internal turmoil within Katniss as she is struggling with her feelings about Peeta, not wanting to seem like a pawn in the capitol's game, having to kill other kids and her basic desire to return home.
I won't give away the ending - but I will say that I love this book and enjoyed the next two in the series as well.
There have been many groups concerned about these books due to their somewhat graphic nature (kids killing kids). I will be the first to say that even though I teach 7th grade English, there are even some students in my current class that I would say probably aren't ready for a book of this nature. I think parents should wait until kids are in 8th or 9th grade even to read them. This book is not different from others in the dystopia/survival genre - sort of like Lord of the Flies in parts actually. There is a reason though that LotF is a high school level book and I would place Hunger Games there as well.
As a counter-argument though - the book does deal with the fact that humans killing other humans is not right and those who enjoy it must have some sort of sociopathical disorder. There is LOTS to discuss within this book and would make a great read for a book club or discussion group. The role of government, the responsibility of individuals in the face of injustice, the lengths that a person would go to in order to protect their family or those they love, etc...
I love it!