I typically don’t read science-fiction, but kudos to Leigh, who also “doesn’t read sci-fi,” and nevertheless insisted I not miss The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.
In Panem (formerly North America,) there are 12 districts surrounding the ruling Capitol. One male and one female teenage tribute from each district are chosen via lottery by the Capitol to fight till death in the Hunger Games. No one outside the Capitol is exempt from the lottery. If a starving family needs food, they may receive extra grain and oil, in exchange for submitting their child’s name an extra time into the lottery pool.
The games are staged much like the TV show, Survivor, except being ‘voted off’ means you literally just got killed by another tribute. The games are conducted for the supposed entertainment of residents of the Capitol, yet they are required viewing for all districts to watch. The GameMakers create an ‘arena,’ a natural-looking area with foliage, climate control, wild animals. They can manipulate conditions to force the participants into hardship, thereby upping the ante, when there’s not enough exciting action for the viewers.
The story of The Hunger Games mirrors many of the realities of war. Selected tributes have no choice but to fight. Rich districts can afford to train and outfit their tributes better. Poor families lose disproportionately more of their children to the games. In the end, everyone loses: most tributes die and the survivors suffer injuries, guilt, addictions and/or mental breakdowns.
The heroine, Kat, is strong, clever and determined. There are a few heroes in the story, really, who display compassion and wisdom. It’s a hard book to put down, so make extra room in your reading schedule, once you land a copy of the book. One final warning: The Hunger Games is the first book in a trilogy by the same name. You may get hooked to read all three titles in the series!
The Hunger Games