The Hunger Games (Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins

Released: October 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 374
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN-10: 0-439-02348-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-439-02348-1

The Hunger Games is a the first in a YA sci-fi/fantasy series from Suzanne Collins. I read good things about it in Stephen King’s review for Entertainment Weekly and so I ended up picking it up one day at the bookstore.

Chapters tells me this book is geared towards 10- to 12-year-olds. Um, wow. I mean, there’s no swearing or sex but it’s a pretty heavy book. You’ll see what I mean when you read the plot description in the publisher’s blurb:

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the other districts in line by forcing them to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight-to-the-death on live TV. One boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and sixteen are selected by lottery to play. The winner brings riches and favor to his or her district. But that is nothing compared to what the Capitol wins: one more year of fearful compliance with its rule. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her impoverished district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

It’s not the type of material I’d give to just any 10-year-old but it really is a fantastic book. Katniss is an engaging protagonist – she has a good heart and strong motivations but she also sees the wrongness of the Hunger Games and society’s rules. The writing is strong and the story is solid. I didn’t find the plot to be unpredictable but the book is written in such a way that the expected elements still seemed fresh. The author has also created a fantastic, dystopic mood interspersed with great moments of humanity.

The second book in the series, Catching Fire, is out now. I look forward to reading it.

I’m calling this book 2/3 for my Awesome Authors Challenge 2010 since Stephen King said it would entertain me.

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