Imagine if The Most Dangerous Game was a reality TV show watched by an entire nation. Then imagine all of the contestants are children. This is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, author of Gregor the Overlander and The Underland Chronicles. As much as I love those books, Suzanne Collins has outdone herself with this amazing new young adult novel.
A country called Panem has risen out of an apocalyptic North America, ravaged by war, drought, storms and other disasters. There were 13 districts surrounding the Capital, until one day the 13th district decided to rise up against the Capital. Well, that didn’t work out so well and now there are 12 districts. To keep the 12 districts in check, the Capital created the Hunger Games. 24 tributes, a boy and a girl from each district, are offered as something of a sacrifice as they are brought together to fight to the death. Everyone else watches the games on TV. Nice, right?
Our hero is Katniss Everdeen, the steely daughter of a coal-mining family from District 12, a family that’s met nothing but hard times. She is tough as nails, smart, and charismatic. As a reader, it was painful to follow her through the Hunger Games, simultaneously rooting for her not to be killed and not to become a killer.
This is a fantastic book, but make no mistake, it is pretty dark material. While it’s a page-turner, a particularly empathetic or sensitive kid may be overwhelmed by the situations. It was a bad choice to read on the subway – starting at about page 18, I cried for nearly 20 pages.
This video clip makes it sound like The Hunger Games is the first of a trilogy, and I’m anxious to read more. It would also make an amazing movie. The Reading Zone offers the wonderful news that reluctant readers are finding this book.