The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins renewed my fervor in late night/early morning reading. Let me tell you- it's been a long time since I've read anything this good. Prior to reading Hunger Games, I felt as if I was in a reading rut. Almost all of my reading selection for a couple months previous to Hunger Games consisted of material that was "so-so" and felt like nothing special. Then this little book came along and it punched my senses alive. So to kick off this summary, here goes (it may get a little confusing though, but stick with it):
The best way to describe this book is that it's a combination of these key elements: gladiators, reality tv, and Lord of the Flies (with a little love story thrown in). I know this sounds like a recipe for disaster, but Collins did an amazing job of creating a melting pot of a story. So for some back story: Katniss (yes, that is the name of a girl, and try not to let her name send thoughts of "cat piss" into your mind like it did for me) is the main character living in a world of chaos. The story is based in a futuristic version of the US with the country being separated into 12 districts each monitored by the capital (set loosely in the Rocky Mountains) with the first district being the closest to the capital, and then the second next to that, and so on. Each district specializes in a certain occupation with the first district being the most lavish and the twelfth getting the lucky job of mining coal. Katniss is one of the lucky children living within the 12th district, fighting a rough war against starvation for herself and her family.
The world is like this and set up into districts that the government could care less about because decades ago all the people tried to revolt against the capital and stage a coup that backfired and resulted in the Hunger Games that is meant to keep each district in line. Every year the hunger games take place, which consist of a boy and girl ages 12-18 from each district being selected to compete on live tv to fight for their lives. Everyone is required to watch the games, even those whose children are fighting for their lives. The winner of the games is essentially the last person standing, and that individual gets riches and wealth not only given to their family, but showered upon their district for the entire year (which includes food-the most important thing for district 12 since they have little).
Katniss ends up being selected to participate in the games and is whisked to the capital to begin "training" for tv interviews, skill appraisal, and national appearances a week prior to the games starting. Since Katniss has had to poach illegally from the capital's forest for game for her family, she's skilled with a bow and arrow which ends up marking her a higher ranking contender for when the games are to start.
I don't want to give anything else away because it would give away too much, but know that this book sucked me in with its premise and the feelings of hopelessness and the struggle for survival that the contenders have. Collins is an excellent writer and did a great job of setting up an eventful story. Though the content may seem a little "adult" with the idea of fighting to the death, the story is definitely appropriate for younger teen or tween readers. I've recommended this book to anyone I can and I hope you pick it up at your local library or book store (though you may be put on a waiting list for it because it's being endorsed by Stephenie Meyer).