Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

A shining Capitol surrounded by 12 Districts makes up the nation of Panem, once known as North America. Over 70 years ago there were 13 districts, and all rose up in rebellion against the Capitol. They were defeated, and as punishment District 13 was razed to the ground and The Hunger Games began. Each year each district must send two tributes. The names of one boy and one girl are drawn by lot. They will travel to the Capital and let loose in the Arena, where they must fight to the death. There can be only one survivor.

Technically, names are entered once for each year starting at age 12. So by age 18, the last year of eligibility, each teen has 6 chances for their name to be chosen. But there's a catch that makes it unfair for the poor and starving. A teen may enter his or her name more than once per year in exchange for for an extra ration of grain and oil. These tessera keep many from starvation, and they add up. This year Katniss's name is in the glass bowl twenty times. Her odds are not good. But when the girl's name is called, it's the name her 12-year-old sister, Prim. 12-year-olds never survive the Game, and to protect her sister Katniss quickly shouts out: " I volunteer for the tribute!"

Katniss is a fantastic heroine. She tries to keep herself hard and cold to survive, but her soft heart keeps winning out as she forms alliances with other teens in the Arena. Her skills in hunting come in handy and she could simply outlast the others with her outdoor survival techniques, but that wouldn't be interesting to those watching, and betting on, the Game and it's outcome. So the Gamekeepers push the teens into combat situations, controlling water supplies and weather conditions, even throwing mutated killing creatures into their path. Anything to make the Game more interesting. I highly recommend this novel, but there is a catch. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy...The Hunger Games, by the author of the Gregor the Overlander series, won't be published until October 1st, 2008. Place your holds now for this amazing book!

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