Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I read this book as a read aloud to my 7th grade Reading class and they LOVED it, as did I. Certainly more of a young adult novel, it still appeals to the adult audiences that are wither watching or are familiar with the reality show phenomenon. Collins' novel follows the adventures of Katniss, a teenage girl who finds herself participating in The Hunger Games, a reality show where children are thrown together in a "Survivor" style manner....only instead of getting voted off the island, their job is to fight to the death and provide the best entertainment possible for the audience that watches every move.

At first glance, one might think that The Hunger Games is little more than a novel that appeals to the juvenile audience's need for action and a little blood and guts. While it does provide this, my favorite thing about this novel was how Collins manages to weave commentary about the government, the citizens, and the values of a society in between the lines of this book. She suggests that perhaps the country of Panem is what the United States is heading toward, a nation where the government has seized complete control and uses these "games" as a way of reminding the citizens of that fact. There are clear dividing lines between the have and the have-nots, but in this world those lines are called district boundaries. Are we so different from the citizens of Panem? Do we not revel in watching the misery, the triumphs, and the struggles of others? Do we not draw clear lines between those whom we consider valuable and those we consider to be a waste of oxygen? Perhaps the post-war state of Panem is not so different from our modern landscape after all.

The action of The Hunger Games keeps you on the edge of your seat, stoking your interest with everything from fire storms to bees whose stings induce hallucinations. The ending leaves the reader hanging, eager to read the sequel which is scheduled to be released this fall and will certainly also become a bestseller. If you're looking for a quick, fun read with a sci-fi flair, give The Hunger Games a try! But, you'll probably be on a wait list if you opt to go the library route. It is a very popular choice right now.....especially for the young male reader.

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