The Hunger Games
Katniss lives with her mother and younger sister in District 12. They survive because Katniss and her friend Gale hunt outside the wire and bring back game to trade in the District. District 12 is part of Panem and ruled by the Capitol. The government in the Capitol won the war years ago and rules the Districts closely. Part of their control includes the Hunger Games. Two teen agers from each district are chosen every year to participate. One walks away alive, the champion for the year. The others' bodies are shippped back to their districts.
When Katniss' younger sister's name is drawn to participate this year, Katniss volunteers to go in her stead. She won't allow her sister to die. She and the baker's son, Peeta, are this year's representatives from District 12. In all the years of the Games there were only two others from their poor District who have won. One of them is their current trainer to get them ready. Katniss and Peeta know they won't win, but they hope to not shame their in the manner own people.
The Hunger Games shows a future dystopia that is chilling like 1984 or The Handmaid's Tale. The government and the wealthy are in power. The further a person lives from the Capitol the harder life is. District 12 is the coal mining area - dirty and poor. Katniss' father died in a mining explosion a few years earlier. Her mother is only now recovering. For a few years Katniss was the sole support for the family. Katniss doesn't realize how important she is to her community.
Suzanne Collins wrote The Hunger Games in Katniss' first person view. That adds to its power. While written at a young adult level, any age person can enjoy this book. It is well written and brings Katniss and the Games to life. Yet as bad as the games are, Collins is able to keep the horror from overwhelming the reader. The book is about 24 teen agers forced to kill each other for "the good of the state". There are no rules and no holds barred other than to survive.
The end is left open. The Games are over for the year, but not the politics. The reader sees the great injustices in the system. Can they be addressed in the next two books?
Notice: Graphic violence
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