Summary (Scholastic website)
Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.
Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
I’ve been reading rave reviews about this book for months, but for one reason and another I kept putting off picking up The Hunger Games myself. I was wary of all the hype when I finally started reading, but I have to say that this novel lived up to every word of the enthusiastic recommendations
After only a few chapters I was hooked and found myself sitting up into the early hours of the morning reluctant to put the book down and turn out the light. I’m now not so patiently waiting for the Australian release of the second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire, which will be available in October 2009.
The primary characters, the Hunger Games entrants Katniss and Peeta, are compelling and I am keen to see how Collins continues their friendship/relationship in Catching Fire. On a more thought-provoking level, the political situation in Panem and the obvious big brother-style government surveillance and control offer readers significant themes to ponder.
The concept of a government initiated and televised fight to the death between a selected group of teenagers raises some interesting issues. While the descriptions aren’t particularly graphic, the fact that there are deaths of children as young as 12 at the hands of other children/teens during the Games may make it unsuitable for younger readers. My copy suggests an age range of 11+, but I would suggest 12+ or older given the underlying violence, especially if the reader is particularly sensitive.
I am really looking forward to reading the next instalment and seeing where Collins takes this story, both with the characters of Katniss, Peeta and Gale (Katniss’ best friend) and the political situation in Panem.
Even if you aren’t a fan of science fiction in general, don’t assume that The Hunger Games won’t appeal to you. While there are elements of Sci-Fi in the setting, this is a novel driven by great characters and a fantastic story concept rather than the trappings of the sci-fi genre.
Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-407109-08-4, 454 pages
Suitable Age: 12+
- My review of The Hunger Games trilogy at Suite101
- My review of The Hunger Games Official Illustrated Movie Companion at Reading Upside Down
- The Hunger Games website