Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
For Ages: 12 and up
Panem – a post-apocalyptic North America ruled by oligarchy – hosts a yearly TV reality show death match between 24 teenagers called “The Hunger Games” as a way to keep its’ citizens in line. To spare her beloved younger sister, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers for the Hunger Games. The hunting skills she learned to keep her sister and mother alive after her father died in a coal mining accident should give her a chance at being the sole survivor. What Katniss isn’t counting on is an opponent like Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son, whose kindness once saved her and her sister from starvation. Suddenly the Hunger Games are more than a simple death match Katniss must survive.
I was riveted by this story even though the actual games don’t start until over a 100 pages into the book. Collins’ Panem is a living, breathing post-apocalyptic dictatorship where the leaders use reality TV as effectively as the Romans used the Gladiators. Tough minded, skillful Katniss is a likable protagonist for boys, girls, women, and men to root for, and the story is an appealing mix of survival, dystopia, action, and a bit of romance.
Parent Note: While it really is a fight to the death between 24 teenagers, there is much less graphic violence then I thought there would be. Collins’ focuses on the emotional and psychological toll of this war more than gory details.