Perhaps no book has taken me on such an emotional roller coaster ride as the Hunger Games.
My stepdaughter and I began reading it together - until after the second chapter when I choked getting the words out. She'll probably never stop teasing me for crying, just like she'd never admit a tear gathered in the corner of her eye as well.
The Hunger Games is a potent story of survival and love. It's about beating the odds, rebellion, and facing fears. And it's a book I'm sure I'll read over and over again.
The story is set in the dystopian future, where the world has been virtually wiped clear of civilization. Twelve districts remain, each at different levels of poverty, and all under Capitol rule. To survive, residents from each district must develop skills (like hunting) to feed and clothe their families.
Unless of course someone from your district wins the Hunger Games.
Each year, 24 youth are selected through the reaping, a type of macabre lottery, and then pitted in a giant arena while the rest of the world watches a grand fight to the death. It's like Survivor, but instead of being voted off the island, the losers are carried by hovercraft to their graves. The sole victor earns a year's bounty for his / her entire district.
Author Suzanne Collins expertly navigates the reader through a series of twists and turns designed to fuel your emotions. Katniss is a formidable protagonist, and you can't help but feel her fear, her anger, and her will to survive. She is a hero worth championing, though not without her flaws, and despite her vulnerabilities, Katniss is one of the strongest YA protagonists I've ever read - a refreshing break from young girls who seem to need their "boyfriends" for empowerment.
The Hunger Games explores many themes - war, violence, society's fascination with watching people suffer, the differences between the rich and the poor, and even, the power of love. It does not flinch.
But it will make you turn the page, and when you hit the end, you'll already be reaching for the second in the series.
Thanks to Jan and Donna for turning me onto this fabulous book. Easily one of the best YA novels I've ever read.
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