Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This story is told in the voice of Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old, who lives in the country of Panem in a post-apocalyptic world.  The Capitol, a highly advanced Metropolis, has political and military dominance over the rest of the nation where the country of North America once existed.  The Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl (aged 12-18) from each of the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised outdoor arena until only one person is left.  District 12, where the story begins, is located in the coal rich region that was formerly Appalachia.  Katniss volunteers for the Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, Primrose, who was drawn in the lottery.  Also selected from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, the Baker's Son, who has a crush on Katniss and actually saved her from starving once. 

They are taken to the Capitol where they are groomed for the Game (along with the other Tributes)
and publicly displayed to the audience along with an interviewer who conducts interviews with them both.  Audience members are encouraged to send gifts and become sponsors.  Katniss has hunting and outdoor skills that help her and Peeta survive.  Due to Katniss and Peeta's image in the mind of the audience as "star-crossed lovers", Katniss plays up this angle to win the sympathy of the audience.  The rest of the book is devoted to how the Games play out.

The book tackles issues like severe poverty, starvation, oppression, etc.  The choices they make and the stragegies they use are often morally complex and the themes of power and the down-trodden add to the complexity of the book.  There is also the theme of self-sacrifice and hope that is played out in the story.  An enjoyable read, despite the grim nature of the story. 

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