Summary: In a future where much of North America is under water, and resources have become scarce, a new nation, named Panem, rose from the ashes of the United States. After the 13 districts of the new nation unsuccessfully rebelled against the capital, brutality becomes the norm to hold the country together. District 13 is destroyed as a demonstration of the consequences of revolt. Lest the lesson be forgot the other districts are subjected to the Hunger Games. Each year, 2 children between the ages of 12 and 18, are selected by lot from each district. These 24 representatives are then sent to the capital to fight to the death in a televised reality TV program. When 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen’s sister’s name is drawn, she volunteers to take her place. Katniss has been forced to fight to survive all her life, but will her skills be enough to carry her through?
Reviews: For those not in the know, this has been a wildly popular series the past 2 years. With the final book in the trilogy (Mockingjay) released earlier this year, it’s probably the hottest thing going in YA and Teen literature since Twilight. On paper, the story and characters, while interesting, are not by any stretch unique. The central premise of the first book is extremely similar to that of the popular manga series Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, and the other dystopian elements don’t offer much else that’s unique. Collins, however, takes these elements and spins a tale that is utterly engrossing. Given the violent premise, I would recommend this for anyone, including adults, over the age of 12. This is a great series, better written and more worthwhile than, yes, those Twilight books.
Read-a-likes: Catching Fire and Mockingjay complete Collins‘ trilogy. In the way that it pulled me into the story, The Hunger Games reminded me of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (which has some similarities in the subject matter) and the early Harry Potter books. Despite a more or less identical story, I would recommend Battle Royale only to adult readers; it’s really graphic, and frankly not as good. There are a growing number of books for all ages featuring dystopias, A Crack in the Sky by Mark Peter Hughes and The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau are two other that might grab you.
Availability: This title is available from the Lake Bluff Public Library as a book and an eAudiobook. Click here to check on the availability!