Review Blog

Jan 12 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

cover image

Scholastic 2008. ISBN 9781407109084.
(Ages 12+) In a future not too far away, when global warming has destroyed much of North America, the people left huddle between the Rockies and the Appalachian mountains, vying for food and water. When one group wins over the rest, they divide the country into 13 districts around the capitol, where they live. To stop future wars, a reaping is held each year when 2 children, one boy and one girl, are chosen by ballot from the names of all 12-18 year olds in each district, to fight to the death.
This reality game show taken to an appalling level has the children taken to a studio where they are preened and plumped for the television show, beamed over all districts continuously while the game is on. Let loose into the stadium after some training, they are on their own, having to survive and fight to live. Several of the districts have an advantage, being career fighters, with money in their backgrounds, education and cunning, but many are from poorer districts where survival is a daily grind.
16 year old Katniss sees her sister, 12 year old Prim, chosen, and without hesitation, Katniss leaps forward to exchange places with her. She knows her sister will never survive such an ordeal, let alone kill someone. So the cat and mouse game begins. Television cameras beam what happens live, and so Katniss becomes aware that she msut play the audience, fo they will support her and send her gifts when her food and water runs out. Part way through the game, the rules change and she is allowed to team up with the boy form her district, Peeta, and together they are able to outwit some of the others.
An engrossing tale, well told, The Hunger Games was one of those rare books that I could not put down. To have children put in this position was heart wrenching, knowing that eventually they would have to kill people they know. Surviving with them in the arena made my hair stand on end, as you realise exactly what they must do to keep alive themselves. Each character is individual, all 24 combatants recognisable and different. The heart stopping moments come thick and fast, but the reader is never aware of being manipulated or pandered to. It is a most ingenious book, and I was thrilled to get to the end to find that this is part of a trilogy.
Fran Knight

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