Katniss Everdeen age 16 lives in District 12, otherwise known as the Seam, on the outskirts of the Capital in the country of Panem (formerly North America). Since her father died in a mining accident, it has been her responsibility to provide for her mother and 12 year old sister by illegally hunting and gathering in the woods beyond the District. People in the outlying districts are kept hungry and needy, while people in the Capital prosper. To keep folks in the districts from rebelling, which has happened before, every year an event is held; an event called The Hunger Games. When a child turns 12, every year, his or her name is added to the pot, and at the annual event called The Reaping, one boy and one girl from each district is chosen to compete in The Games. This year, Katniss’ younger sister’s name is chosen, and Katniss volunteers to go instead.
And here’s where it really gets interesting. The Hunger Games is a YA novel and is told from Katniss’ first person perspective. Instead of limiting the scope of the story, this gives it an immediacy that ratchets up the suspense, page after page.... and boy is there suspense! You see, The Hunger Games are fight-to-the-death. There can be only one winner, and that winner will be celebrated and sent back home to their district to live in relative wealth and comfort.
The Hunger Games are brutal, unforgiving, and cruel, and the eyes and ears of the public are everywhere at all times. Nothing is sacred, and every second counts. Unlikely friendships are forged and help comes from surprising places, but nothing will prepare you for Katniss’ journey, which, in the end, is one of courage and love.
I loved this book. Absolutely loved it, and I tend to be fairly picky about YA novels. Not that there is not a lot of wonderful YA literature out there; there is! However, to be fair, most YA is written in such a way as to draw on the readers level of education and life experience, as it should be! The Hunger Games doesn’t pull its punches, but it also does not have any gratuitous violence and gore, and Ms. Collins does not, at any time, talk down to her readers. I would recommend this book for kids ages 14 and up, or possibly a fairly mature 13 year old. As a mother of three, one of which is a pre-teen, I’ll look forward to the day when one or all of my children picks this up, and I’ll also expect questions at the end. But that’s ok, because a good book does that. If you like books about a dystopian future with glimmers of hope, and characters to fall in love with, then this is the book for you. I very highly recommended The Hunger Games for young adults and adults alike.