The Hunger GamesAuthor: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games
Summary: 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 districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place 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 will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
At the beginning of the book, we learn about a girl named Katniss Everdeen who lives in District 12 in a country called Panem, and that it is Reaping day. But at this point, we don't know what that means. Katniss leaves the confines of her district to go hunting in the woods with her best friend Gale, which we discover is against the law, and if the officials in her district weren't starving, they would have already been executed for it. They talk about a place called the Capitol, making fun of the people and their accent in the safety of the woods, but don't dare speak against them within their district. Soon, it is quite clear what the Reaping is: it is a lottery, where one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen from each of the twelve districts to fight each other to the death on live television in front of the entire nation. And attendance is mandatory for all citizens.
And then, Katniss hears her sister's name being called. Primrose, who is attending her first Reaping, who is only 12 years old, who Katniss loves more than anyone in the world. And suddenly Katniss is volunteering to take her sisters place. And then the name Peeta Mellark is called and Katniss has a flashback to when he helped her by giving her bread, at his own expense, when she was starving as an 11 year old girl and feels a pang of sadness. From here, the two are whisked away into the Justice Building, saying goodbye to family members and friends, and boarding a train for the Capitol with their advisers: Effie Trinket (who is from the Capitol) and Haymitch Abernathy (who was the victor during his own Games).
As Katniss sees the Capitol, a place full of people she has hated her entire life, for the first time, she can't help but be in awe of it at times, and we too are swept into this world that is terrible yet enticing. It draws you in and you want to see more, but are scared out of your mind for these children, teenagers, who are called Tributes in the Games and are about to be thrown into an arena fighting for their lives, some of whom you think she could never possibly beat in a fight, and others so innocent and child-like that you hope she never has to even try. There are the stylists who help to create her image and make her seem appealing so that she may win sponsors to help her in the Games, and then there are the other Tributes, some who have been preparing for the Games their entire lives who have gained the nickname of Careers because they are trained for this sort of thing, and then there are the ones who you know would never stand a chance because they are from the poorer districts and don't have the resources or the knowledge or the strength. It completely chills you to the bone thinking, what would I do if this happened to me?? How could anyone allow something like this to happen? It's completely horrible and appalling. Yet you can't stop reading. You're hoping, praying even, that this girl who is thrown into the arena by choice and circumstance makes it out alive. And you hope that they all make it out alive, even though you know that in they end there can only be one winner.
I could not stop turning the pages. One after another after another, I read on. I remember the first time I read The Hunger Games, for it was only a year ago that I first picked up the book. I kept seeing and hearing people talking about how amazing this trilogy of books is and so I bought the first, not knowing at all what to expect. And what I found was a world that was in despair. A government so cruel, who could send children into an arena, making them fight for their lives, killing each other. Watching in my mind as this sixteen year old girl who keeps her thoughts to herself and her face a mask, sacrifice herself to save her sister, get paraded around the Capitol in gorgeous clothing as if it's all fun and celebration, and then get thrown into an arena to kill people. It's all so terrible, yet you can't put the book down. You have to know if she makes it out alive. You have to keep reading and find out what happens. It's a heart-pounding, palms-sweating, fast-paced novel that keeps your jaw on the floor and your butt on the edge of your seat. And I remember that after finishing the book late at night, I glanced at the clock hoping it wasn't so late that I couldn't go buy the next book in the series. But it was. I laid in bed, thinking about this book for hours. I couldn't fall asleep. My mind was racing, needing to know what happens next, thinking of all the possibilities. It's just one of those books that leaves you needing the rest of the story, wanting to know more about the characters, the world, everything, and turning the events over and over in your mind, trying to find a way that it could have turned out differently. It's simply phenomenal and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone who is a young adult or older. It's one of those books that should not be passed up. (I may be just a little bit biased.. it's one of my favorite books of all time!)
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