TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
Scholastic has high hopes for Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games," which is to be published in the fall of 2008. After feverishly reading this novel — on a plane of all places! — I can absolutely see why they're so excited. Action, romance, drama, social commentary, future dystopia sci fi … truly, this book has something for everyone, male and female readers alike. To put it simply, I loved it.
Let me set up the concept so you can see exactly what I mean. In some future time period, North America as we know it is called "Panem," a vast country that has been divided up into thirteen districts. Well, strike that. It's now twelve districts, since the Capitol, located in the protective confines of the Rocky Mountains, had punished District 13 for its rebellion by obliterating it in a nuclear attack. As a vicious reminder to the remaining twelve districts to respect the Capitol's power, each year an event called the Hunger Games, which is basically a bloody death battle, is held. One boy and one girl (ages 12 to 18, if I remember correctly) from each district are selected to participate via a random lottery. Ah, but there's a catch. The Capitol cruelly rations food and oil to the outlying districts to such extremes that folks are literally starving to death out there; to secure an extra ration for the family, the child's name is entered an extra time into the drawing.
The story begins as sixteen year-old Katniss returns from an illegal hunting trip just in time for the Reaping, the dour festival that includes the drawing of names. When Katniss' beloved younger sister Prim is picked based on her single entry, Katniss immediately steps in to take her place as the female representative from District 12. The male representative is Peeta, the quiet baker's son who years before had shown a hungry, frightened Katniss a rare bit of kindness.
Katniss and Peeta are whisked off to the Capitol, where they are fed, pampered, and trained for the Hunger Games. And what exactly are the Hunger Games, you ask? Nothing less than gladiator-style battles between 24 boys and girls who literally fight to the death before a live television audience. If the players are popular, sponsors might pool their limited funds together and provide them with needed food or medicine. Otherwise, they are left to survive on their own in conditions that the gamemakers can manipulate to their every whim.
Throughout the games, Peeta is gentle and affectionate toward the tough, scrappy Katniss, who assumes that his feelings are part of a larger ploy to make the pair favorites of the home audience. As the games progress with an extraordinary amount of cruelty and violence, Katniss and Peeta are eventually thrown together and must rely on each other for their very survival.
I won't give out any other plot details, but, trust me, this story rocks. The futuristic setting is dynamite, the game details are compelling and awful (at the same time!), and Katniss' character is beautifully developed as a resourceful, tough, heartbroken survivor. Honestly, I can't imagine a reader not getting completely swept along by this story, which moves at such a crisp, vigorous pace that you literally won't be able to put it down. I tell you, I was sorry when the plane landed! The book ends on a twist ending and a cliffhanger, which may annoy you a bit. Since this is the first of a promised trilogy, I'd say there's lots more story left to unfold here, and, for that, I'm enormously grateful.
Look for "The Hunger Games" in October!
2009 SUMMER READING REVIEW
FROM A KINNELON LIBRARY TEEN REVIEWER:
It's exciting, realistic (for a sci-fi book), and action packed. You will be on the edge of your seat through the whole book. READ IT!
2010 SUMMER READING REVIEWS
FROM KINNELON LIBRARY TEEN REVIEWERS:
I liked "The Hunger Games." It had lots of action and lots of description. It gives you a cliffhanger ending, but somehow also provides a little resolution. This book is so great! It has characters you love and hate.
I enjoyed "The Hunger Games." Author Suzanne Collins' topic is interesting and her characters are fun. Her ideas pulled me in. I can't wait for her next book to come out!