What more can I say about a book that received rave reviews from Stephen King, Stephenie Meyer and Rick Riordan? Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games is the best young adult novel I've read in over a year. It's an addictive, fast-paced story with a feisty teen heroine. I can't wait for the second book in the proposed trilogy, Catching Fire.
It's a world in which North America as we know it no longer exists. Instead the entire country of Panem is ruled by the Capitol, located somewhere in the Rockies. The rest of the country is broken up into twelve districts, since the thirteenth district was destroyed following an act of rebellion. Now, to remind the people of that rebellion, two teenagers from each district are sent to the Capitol as tribute, in a ceremony called the reaping.
At sixteen, Katniss Everdeen has been the primary support for her family in District 12. There, in what used to be Appalachia, she regularly hunts illegally with her hot friend, Gale. But, all normal life stops when it's time for the reaping, a creepy ritual in which two names are drawn to be sent to the Capitol. When Katniss' hears her younger sister's name called, she volunteers to take her place. She's paired up with the baker's son, Peeta Mellark, and sent by train to participate in the Hunger Games.
And, the Hunger Games? Twenty-four teens from the twelve districts are pitted against each other in a fight to the death, in a created environment called the arena. And, they fight each other in a battle for survival, on reality TV broadcast to all of Panem, as a reminder of the past.
The first half of the book sets up the games themselves, introducing the characters, the Capitol, and the history. For teens, there's a romantic triangle. For all of the rest of us, there's the second half of the book, an action game played at fever pitch, for life or death.
Collins has created a heroine with human flaws and weaknesses. But, Katniss is independent, strong, and courageous. She's the perfect heroine for a world gone mad. The Hunger Games is an exciting story, but it's a story of the results of war and tyranny. It's a bestselling young adult novel, worth reading by anyone interested in a wonderful story.
Suzanne Collins' website is www.suzannecollinsbooks.com
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Scholastic, Inc., ©2008. ISBN 9780439023481 (hardcover), 374p.