In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Ruthless and calculating, the Capitol rules the districts with an iron hand. Especially after what happened to District 13. But people don’t talk about that.
Inside the Capitol life is a constant celebration filled with beauty and abundance, especially during the Games. Outside the Capitol, in the other districts, people live in poverty struggling to find enough to eat. To remind them, year after year, that they once rebelled and are now conquered, the Capitol has made the Hunger Games an annual spectacle of brutality masked as entertainment.
Two tributes are required from each district. One boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Whisked from their homes, forced into an arena, the tributes are trained, armed, and ordered to fight to the death. There is one Victor in every Game. But no one ever truly beats the Hunger Games because no one can ever truly beat the Capitol.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen doesn’t care about the Games. She cares her mother and protecting her younger sister Prim. She cares about surviving and finding enough food for her family. For Katniss, underfed and ill-prepared, stepping into the arena promises a quick and gruesome death.
Her male counterpart, Peeta Mellark, is unlikely to fare much better.
There can only be one Victor. But working together, Katniss and Peeta might just find a way to beat the Games in The Hunger Games (2008) by Suzanne Collins.
By now, this book hardly needs a review. Wildly popular, The Hunger Games already flies off the shelves. After reading the book, it’s easy to see why.
Collins presents a bleak, futuristic world filled with action and the promise of excitement and intrigue. The Hunger Games is not written as a story being told to a reader. Instead Katniss seems to be talking directly to the reader. The immediacy and pathos this adds to the story cannot be overstated. Readers are right there with Katniss as she meets the other tributes–and calculates how best to kill them and the likelihood that they will beat her to it. Katniss could be cold and calculating, indeed she often is, but the dynamic between Katniss and the other characters makes her more than that. It makes her human.
The Hunger Games is essentially filled with battles, twists, and suspense. But it is also the story of life in a police state. Even more, it is the story of a girl learning who she is in the most unlikely of settings and understanding that sometimes victory can be about a whole lot more than winning.
Possible Pairings: In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Selection by Kiera Cass, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, Green Angel by Alice Hoffman, Legend by Marie Lu, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld