It is said that the best way to write an entertaining book about young people is to get rid of the adults. Perhaps that is why Harry Potter is an orphan, the children don’t take the grownups with them through the wardrobe into Narnia, and Percy Jackson’s mom is a mortal who stays in New York while he goes off to save the world. Suzanne Collins takes a bit of a different approach to this phenomenon in The Hunger Games. Rather than getting rid of the adults entirely (although she does do this for a portion of the story), she creates a world in which the adults condone, and even encourage, all of the terrible things that happen to the young people in the course of the story.
The book begins in homage to Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. A yearly drawing is taking place to determine the two sacrifices from District 12. The lottery winners are to be the representatives from their district in this year’s nationally televised Hunger Games. They are being randomly (if not fairly) chosen to fight to the death. By law, the two contestants must be a girl and a boy between the ages of twelve and eighteen. There are twelve districts to be represented, and we meet the two who are selected to compete for District 12, in what is present day Appalachia. This story is set in a future United States. In this version of what’s to come, the government controls everything, and the Hunger Games must be held as both a punishment for a district’s previous uprising and a deterrent to prevent further revolt.
As luck would have it, our main character, Katniss Everdeen, is not chosen to compete in this year’s Hunger Games. Unfortunately, the girl who is chosen is someone Katniss cannot bear to have risk her life. Katniss becomes the first person from District 12 ever to volunteer to take the place of another in the competition. The chosen boy, Peeta Mellark also becomes a key character in the story and in Katniss’s life and death struggle. As participants in the Hunger Games, they have no foreknowledge of their fighting arena, and no weapons may be taken into the games. They must fight to survive both the elements and their fellow competitors. Only one can win the Hunger Games.
Check the WRL catalog for The Hunger Games.