Every once in a while there’s a book that just WHAM! takes over your life until you’ve finished the book, and that means you snatch any second you have to read a chapter, a page, a sentence. THIS IS THAT BOOK. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is, in one word, fantastic.
Imagine sometime in the future, when something has happened to North America and the United States is no more. Things happen as they will and you end up with 13 districts, all presided over by one government. The districts don’t like how the government runs things and so revolts, but 12 districts get their booties kicked and the 13th district gets obliterated, and in order to remind the people that the government IS the boss of them, they make each district pick one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 and 18 who will participate in the annual Hunger Games, which is basically a fight to the death. On live TV! Huzzah to the winner, but so sorry to the loser.
I know! GAH! SO CREEPY! Maybe even creepier than the everyone-going-blind-creepy. ‘Cause that was all kinds of shiverings. This is even worse.
This is the Capital’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion. Whatever words they use, the real message is clear. “Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen.”
So in District 12 there’s this girl, Katniss, who’s way cool for anyone with any tomboy leanings whatsoever, because she goes out under the fence (the districts are fenced in!) every day to hunt game for her family who would starve without her. Her dad died in a mining accident when she was 12 and her mother completely broke down, so Katniss has shouldered the burden of feeding her family.
The annual Hunger Games come along, and it’s her sister’s first year being eligible, and Katniss not only is eligible but has her name in the hat TWENTY TIMES. Extra entries for a fun blog giveaway? Really cool. Extra entries for a drawing into the Hunger Games? Not so great. Katniss’ sister, Prim, who’s only 12-years-old, has one lone entry. Phew! But guess who gets picked? Prim. And guess who volunteers to go in Prim’s place? Katniss.
All of this happens in the FIRST 33 PAGES! It gets even more adrenaline-inducing from there! The boy that’s picked from District 12 to fight in the Hunger Games is Peeta, this boy who basically saved her family from starvation four years ago, so hopefully she won’t have to kill him. Together they go to get coached and prepped by a prissy and ridiculous woman and a drunk guy who won the Hunger Games for District 12 years and years ago, both of whom are not happy to be working with a District that doesn’t put out worthy Hunger Game opponents (the nerve of District 12!).
During the Hunger Games, the government can CHANGE THE CLIMATE to basically pit people against each other, just in case someone might be doing something sneaky like hiding or trying not to kill someone. Because that’s not how this game is played, that’s not how the government rolls. We want to see blood, sweat, and tears. Oh, and death, too.
And I loved the plot twists! Katniss and Peeta pretend to be falling in love during the Hunger Games so the audience will root for them (even though There Can Be Only One), and maybe they’re in love but maybe they’re faking! More exclamation points here!!!!!!!
This book will appeal to everyone, no matter your age. It is young adult, recommended for ages 12 and up, but I don’t think I’d let my kid read it until they were 14 or 15. There’s nothing graphic, but this certainly has some heavy topics that 12 and 13 year olds may not be ready for.
This book is the first of a trilogy, and the sequel, Catching Fire, will be released on September 8, 2009. The 3rd book in the trilogy is being written RIGHT NOW and has a tentative release date in 2010. I will swim through shark infested waters to get Catching Fire on September 8th. If it’s released at midnight, I’ll be there at midnight.
Rating: 98 out of 100
Visit the author’s website HERE.
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