It’s always nice to read a book without preconceived notions. When I went into this story, all I really knew was that it was popular and what I had read on the back. Beyond that, I was in a vortex. Most of the people I knew had not read it, or, if they had, didn’t shout it from the rooftops like when they read Harry Potter or Twilight. There’s a movie in the works, but I haven’t seen any of the merchandising that accompanied those two franchises. Except for one cover of Entertainment Weekly for the movie, there’s nothing, and I cannot tell you how nice that is.
So, what about the book? It takes place in North America after something has happened, though it is not explicitly stated, but economic collapse would not be too far off the mark, I suppose. The new country is called Panem, and there is no mention of other countries. In Panem, there are twelve districts (though there were thirteen, but district 13 was destroyed when they tried to incite a rebellion against the Capitol). Once a year, there is something known as The Reaping, a lottery where children between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected to fight in The Hunger Games.
When I first began reading this, my first thought was that it was a mixture of Shirley Jackson’s classic short story, and the 1987 film The Running Man. You see The Hunger Games is a nationally televised event. People take bets on who will live. Instead of in the film (and book it is based on) where there are people hunting a handful of people, it is everyone for themselves. Typically, what are known as the Career Tributes win because they are bigger and stronger. Occasionally, though, one of the smaller is able to outsmart them to win, and that’s where our heroine, Katniss Everdeen comes in.
Katniss is a survivor. She’s from District 12, the coal district, and in order to feed herself and her family, she has to hunt for game. Inside of the arena, she knows how to use a weapon. More importantly, she knows how to stay alive.
This is a great book for all ages as it teaches about politics and survival. I’m not sure if Ms. Collins’ intent was to make people think about it or not, but it certainly made me think about how many people I know would drop like flies if they suddenly had to rely on their own wits to gather for themselves.
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