Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins
January 2012

Everybody's reading The Hunger Games.  Everybody's been reading The Hunger Games for a long while now.  This is the first in a trilogy of books that has remained popular for several years now. I finally decided to see what the fuss was all about but couldn't get my hands on a copy. Thanks to a Barnes and Noble gift certificate and my  Nook, I finally joined the club.

It's a good book and an exciting read. I imagine that the popularity of the book grew with the publication of the other two titles in the trilogy.
The Hunger Games is set sometime in the future. The land mass of North America has shrunk due to global nuclear war, changes in the climate, and through natural disasters.  The United States is no more - now the country is known as Panem and is made up of twelve districts.  The capitol city is located in the Rocky Mountains.  About 75 years before this novel begins, the districts rebelled against the Capitol. One of the districts (number 13) was destroyed and the rebellion was put down. As a punishment for the rebellion, all of the districts were ordered to participate in "The Hunger Games."

The Capitol is like ancient Rome and the Games are akin to the gladiator's games.  In fact, the residents of the Capitol have names like Cinna, Octavius, and Flavius.    There are 24 participants, or "tributes": one girl and one boy chosen from among the teenagers in each district.  Once a child turns twelve, he or she must enter his/her name into a lottery. The obligation to enter the lottery ends when the child turns 19.

It's considered an honor to be chosen and the tributes are treated like celebrities during the weeks leading up to the games.  But the games are a necessary evil because the winner is the person that is still alive at the end.  Because this story is set in the future, the games have somewhat of a high-tech quality.   The setting and circumstances of each game change from year to year. They always take place in an arena, but to the tributes, it could look like a forest or a desert or an icy wasteland.  The year that Katniss, the hero of our book, becomes a tribute the setting is a forest.  Fortunate for her, because she has spent most of her life hunting for food in the woods near her home.

The high-tech stuff comes in the way that the Gamemakers manipulate the environment.  The whole game is televised, so if things start to become boring the Gamemakers can start a thunderstorm or bring in a cold wind.

I enjoyed this book a lot and am ready to read "Catching Fire," the next book in the trilogy.  The world that Suzanne Collins created and the games themselves are a fascinating invention.  I can see why this series has become so very popular.

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