ORDER A COPY: The Hunger Games
Publishing Date: September 14, 2008
Hardcover: 374 pages
Rating: 5 stars
In the ruins of a place once known as North Americalies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love
Katniss Everdeen lives in a world of poverty. District 12 as a whole survives on coal mining, and is the most forgotten district in the Nation. After the death of her father, Katniss learned to hunt with a bow and arrow to feed her mother and sister. When her 13-year-old sister’s name is drawn to fight in the Hunger Games, Katniss doesn’t hesitate to take her place. Will Katniss’s hunting skill be enough to help her survive? District 12 has only had one winner in the 73 prior Hunger Games. As if her chances to survive aren’t bad enough, she is being sent to fight against Peeta Mellark, the boy who’s act of kindness was a poignant memory for her. Will she be able kill him? Will they even survive long enough to decide that?
The first half of the book sets up world that Katniss lives in and after her selection as a contestant, we get the backstage tour of the “show,” because that is how the Games are treated by the people of the Capitol. The contestants are dressed, interviewed and paraded before the cameras so that the people of the Capitol and Districts can bet and live the thrill of the Games.
The Games themselves will leave you on the edge of your seat. Katniss’s fight to survive against all odds, not just against the other contestants, but the traps set up by the Capitol for the entertainment of the viewing audience, will leave you breathless.
I’m in a daze for the first part of Peeta’s interview. He has the audience from the get-go, through; I can hear them laughing, shouting out. He plays up the baker’s son thing, comparing the tributes to the breads from their districts. Then has a funny anecdote about the perils of the Capitol showers. “Tell me, do I still smell like roses?” he asks Caesar, and then there’s a whole run where they take turns sniffing each other that brings down the house. I’m coming back into focus when Caesar asks him if he has a girlfriend back home.
Peeta hesitates, then gives an unconvincing shake of his head.
“Handsome lad like you. There must be some special girl. Come on, what’s her name?” says Caesar.
Peeta sighs. “Well, there is one girl. I’ve had a crush on her since I can remember. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t know I was alive until the reaping.”
Sounds of sympathy from the crowd. Unrequited love they can relate to.
“She have another fellow?” asks Caesar.
“I don’t know, but a lot of boys like her,” says Peeta.
“So, here’s what you do. You win, you go home. She can’t turn you down then, eh?” says Caesar encouragingly.
“I don’t think it’s going to work out. Winning…won’t help in my case,” says Peeta.
“Why ever not?” says Ceasar, mystified.
Peeta blushes beet red and stammers out. “Because…because…she came here with me.”