The hunger games by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic, 2009. ISBN 9781407109084.
(Ages 13+) It is the near future. Panem, once known as North America, is controlled by a dictator who manipulates reality TV to control the population. It is divided into 12 Districts and is run from the Capitol. Each year 2 teenagers from each district are chosen by compulsory lottery to participate in the Hunger Games. All must fight to the death, but the winner will never be hungry again. When her little sister is chosen, Katniss Everdeen takes her place and together with Peeta Mellark, the baker's son, they are taken to the Arena knowing they will probably be killed.
Katniss is a survivor. She has been looking after her mother and sister ever since her father died. With the help of Gale, an 18 year old young man, she has left the confines of her village and ventures out into the wilds to gather food for the family and to barter for other necessities. Faced with the Hunger Games, she puts all her knowledge about the wild into use. She thinks her way through the game, just barely keeping ahead of the monster wasps, werewolves and the rest of the teenage pack. She is a strong and gutsy heroine and the reader cheers on her efforts to stay alive.
The story is full of non-stop action and violence and the suspense keeps the reader glued to the page. Collins has created a dystopian world that is well developed and realistic enough to pull the reader in. Her vivid writing made the terror and anguish that the teens go though in the Games come alive for me, almost as if I was actually watching it on TV. Indeed, for people used to reality TV, The Hunger Games show feels quite familiar.
All Collins' characters are well drawn and engaging and their development is clear and deftly handled. The touch of romance between Katniss and Peeta and Katniss's feelings for Gale make for an appealing love triangle which teenage girls will enjoy. Readers will want to read the sequel to see what happens.
This is one of the most exciting books I have read this year, a compulsive survival book with a frightening dystopian society driving the action.