The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

“What it must be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were easy to come by? What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol?” –  The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that has formed in the wreckage of North America, where natural disaster and nuclear civil war has transformed the landscape into twelve Districts and one totalitarian Capitol. Every year, the Capitol forces the Districts into a raffle ominously called “the reaping,” where each District randomly chooses one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in The Hunger Games. These twenty-four teenagers fight to the death in the wilderness until only one survives, and it’s aired live on national television in a futuristic version of The Truman Show and Survivorman (but with people killing each other). The victor’s district is awarded with bounteous food, oil, and resources, while the loosing districts are rationed to the brink of starvation until the next year’s Hunger Games.

The style and tone of The Hunger Games was a surprise for me; while the reading level is targeted to a young adult audience, I found the content and themes to be very advanced and mature. The book is extremely short and can easily be finished in a few hours by the slowest readers, and the sentence structure and word choice is simple enough for middle school students. If I was a teacher, I would have my students read it in conjunction with a novel like Animal Farm that also deals with complex issues like totalitarian government.

The main character Katniss is a citizen from District 12 who ends up in this year’s Hunger Games, and even though she’s a strong competitor she encounters plenty of obstacles in the arena. In one instance after being stung by genetically engineered yellow jackets, Katniss begins to hallucinate from their infamous and often fatal venom. I hope Hollywood seizes this opportunity for stunning visual eye candy in this spring’s upcoming feature film, as what can only be called the most terrifying acid trip ever takes over:

The world begins to bend in alarming ways. A butterfly balloons to the size of a house then shatters into a million stars. Trees transform to blood and splash down over my boots. Ants begin to crawl out of the blisters on my hands and I can’t shake them free. They’re climbing up my arms, my neck. Someone’s screaming, a long high pitched scream that never breaks for breath. I have a idea that it might be me. I trip and fall into a small pit lined with tiny orange bubbles that hum like the tracker jacker nest. Tucking my knees up to my chin, I wait for death.

Of course, without giving away too much, Katniss manages to survive long enough to fill two more books in the trilogy, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

Image Source: Wikipedia

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One comment

  1. […] top science fiction and fantasy lists since it was published in 1985. Considering I recently read The Hunger Games trilogy, I saw many parallels between the two works (besides both being young adult fiction and […]

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