The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a young adult novel, originally published in hardcover on September 14, 2008.  It has since been released in paperback, audiobook, and e-book.

The movie, written and produced by the author, and directed by Gary Ross, will be released in the United States on March 23, 2012.  Katniss will be played by Jennifer Lawrence, with Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, and Liam Hemsworth as Gale.

This film is wildly anticipated by young crowds and promises to be as popular as the Harry Potter and Twilight movies. Maybe even more so.

The story is told by sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives with her mother and her younger sister, Prim, in a country called Panem (formerly the United States of America).

Panem consists of the Capitol, where the governing people live in luxury. The remainder of the country is divided into 12 districts where the people live in poverty and are completely controlled by the Capitol.

Every year one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen are chosen from each district to participate in The Hunger Games, a reality show in which these young people are forced to kill or be killed.

Viewing the Games is mandatory. Family, friends, and neighbors must watch as their loved ones fight and die.   There can be only one survivor.

When the barely-twelve-year-old Primrose Everdeen is announced to be the female tribute from District 12, Katniss immediately volunteers to take her sister's place, though she is sure it will mean her own death.

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Katniss has learned some survival skills. She is good with a bow and arrow. She and her best friend Gale regularly break the rules and hunt in the woods for small animals, edible plants, and berries to help feed their mothers and younger siblings. Both Katniss and Gale's fathers were killed in a mining accident before the book begins.

Her skills serve her well in the Games, and as more and more people die, Katniss begins to think that she might actually win.  But that could mean she would have to kill Peeta, the male tribute from her own district. This bothers her, and she tries to not think about it.  Peeta has been kind to her in the past, and has even saved her life a couple of times during the games.

Then comes the announcement that the rules have been changed. This year there can be two winners, if they are both from the same district.

Katniss knows that Peeta has been seriously injured, and left to die. She finds him and is able to save his life.  When they are the only two left, the new rule is reversed - there can be only one survivor. One of them must kill the other.

Katniss takes a big chance. Thinking that the Gamekeepers would rather have two winners than none, she takes poisonous berries from her pouch and offers some to Peeta.

Since Katniss and Peeta have been portrayed throughout the games as being in love, and now they intend to commit suicide, the Gamekeepers quickly announce that both are winners.

The Hunger Games has been challenged for "being unsuited to age group", violence, and for containing sexually explicit material.

Certainly, there is violence, though no more so than in many TV shows and movies.  As for being unsuited to age group, let's remember this book was written for young adults, not children.

And about that "sexually explicit material", I'd like someone to tell me where that is, because I sure didn't see it! No one is having sex in this book. No mention of even thinking about it.

Maybe that's because they are too busy trying to stay alive.

When I first began reading The Hunger Games, I wasn't sure I would want to finish it. I found it interesting, and kept turning the pages, but I also found it dark and depressing, and so - hopeless.  What makes it so frightening is that something like this could actually happen.

But, as I continued to read, I began to love and admire Katniss - and then Peeta - and I had to know what happened to them.

Now I know I'll read all three books in The Hunger Games trilogy.

Catching Fire


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