Book Review: The Hunger Games

Hunger_gamesThe Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, was published in October, 2008. This book covers many different fiction genres and I see the basic theme as survival in a post-apocalyptic world. This is the first book in The Hunger Games Trilogy with Catching Fire as number two and Mockingjay as number three. Ms. Collins has also written the Underland Chronicles. This book is best for age 12 and up due to violence and gruesomeness. This book is a bestseller and Ms. Collins is considered as a bestselling author by The New York Times. Each book has been made into a movie and I have seen a The Hunger Games Board Game somewhere in Target soon after the movie came out. The Hunger Games kept me reading to 3am the first time I read it!

Susan CollinsSuzanne Collins began her professional career writing for children’s television shows. Eventually, another author of children’s books convinced her to give children’s books a try. After writing the Underland Chronicles, a fantasy/war book about what you might find down a manhole instead of down a rabbit hole (she lived in New York City at that time), she wrote The Hunger Games and the rest. She now lives in Connecticut with her family and two feral kittens she adopted from her backyard.

Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist, is 16 when this book occurs and has hunted and gathered for her family after her father was blown to bits in a mine accident. She is from District 12, in Appalachia. Her hunting is illegal but the “peacekeepers” buy meat from her and her friend Gale so they are allowed to ‘get away’ with it. Katniss can be bitter and tense because, after her father died, Katniss’s mom neglected her family. She volunteers to take her sister Prim’s place when Prim was reaped for the games. She is extremely good with a bow and arrow but can, and will, get herself in big trouble with the capitol.

The Antagonist is the tyrannical government led by President Snow. Every year they force each district to reap a boy and a girl between 12 and 18 to ‘play‘ in their Hunger Games, where 24 teens are forced to kill each other on live television for extra food rations for the next year. The government people are ‘absolute control freaks’ and will punish any form of rebellious behavior.

Peeta Mellark is the boy with the bread from District 12 that is called in the Reapings after Katniss volunteers. He saved Katniss and her family’s lives by tossing her burnt bread while her mother was facing depression. He works at a bakery and does the frosting on the cakes, which makes him excellent at camouflage. He is also very good at talking (and lying) to the public.

The time this book takes place is suppose to be post-apocalyptical so I would assume it would be several hundred years in the future based on the technology. Panem has the technology we have today (2014), like cars, TVs, guns and computers, plus some more, like disappearing hovercrafts, but only the very rich capitol folk, peacekeepers and government folk can access them. The book opens on the Reaping of the 74th Hunger Games, which means it has been 74 years since the end of the rebellion and the Treaty of Treason. This book lasts from the Reaping of the Tributes to arriving back home in the Summer (I think).

Panem lies in the ruins of North America and is a “Shining Capitol ringed by 12 districts.” There used to be 13 but District 13 was obliterated in the rebellion. The Capitol is in the Rockies and the Districts cover all, well, all thats not flooded by the raised seawaters, of the US and the north part of Mexico.


One of the Maps of Panem

The part of District 12 that Katniss and Peeta live in is called the Seam, which is next to wilderness. District 12 is ringed by a fence that is supposed to be electrified 24/7 but isn’t. The Arena’s and past Arenas’ locations are not mentioned. In fact, the windows on the hovercraft Katniss rides to the Arena are blacked out. The Arena’s layout is The Cornucopia (where the games start) with a lake next to it, there is forest in most directions and a field of possibly grain grasses in one direction. Also, the Gamemakers set traps for the Tributes and can do wild things to the weather.

In Katniss’s life before the Reaping she hunted, fished, trapped and gathered to stay alive and traded some at the Hob, the local black market, for other things her family needed. Then, Prim was Reaped. Now Katniss must put her life on the line in a game where winning means fame and fortune and losing means a gruesome death. And that makes up just the beginning of The Hunger Games.


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