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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a futuristic story of two teenagers fighting for their lives and freedom against their authoritarian government. Panem, a country built on the ruins of North America, consists of twelve districts and one main city – the capitol. Each district has its own special characteristic such as agriculture, coal mining, or fishing, over which the capitol has complete control. An extinct thirteenth district rebelled many years before and was destroyed for trying to take over the capitol. Now, each year, because of the rebellion, there are the Hunger Games where two contestants from each district, one male and one female, are chosen to compete. The games represent the capitol’s complete power over the districts. The 24 contestants fight to the death until there is one person left standing. That person is crowned the winner.

Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old girl, lives in the twelfth district of Panem, whose specialty is coal mining. When Katniss was younger, her dad was killed in a mine explosion, which left Katniss to take care of her sad, grieving mother and her little sister Prim. Now at the age of sixteen, she is keeping her family fed by hunting in the woods. On the day of the Reaping, the day the two contestants are chosen for the Hunger Games, Prim and her older sister walk to the town square. The contestants of the Hunger Games are chosen from a spectrum of twelve to eighteen-year-olds. Prim just turned twelve and this is her first Reaping. There is a huge crowd gathered when they arrive at the town square. After Effie, the capitol’s representative, conducts the opening ceremonies, she reaches into the jar containing the girls’ names. She pulls a slip of paper out of the jar and announces the name - Prim Everdeen. Katniss immediately volunteers to take the place of Prim. Katniss is allowed and becomes the girls’ contestant. The boys’ contestant for district twelve is Peeta Mellark. After the reaping, the two are able to say their goodbyes and then board a train to the Capitol.


Katniss’s sacrifice for her younger sister Prim is a central theme demonstrated throughout this novel. Her willingness to possibly give up her life for Prim is one of several instances of sacrifice in the novel. When Effie Trinket, the director of the Reaping, reaches into the glass ball to draw the female name, then reads in a clear voice, “Primrose Everdeen,” Katniss is devastated. Despite her fright, Katniss immediately yells, “I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!”

The discrepancy between the wealthy capitol and the impoverished districts is a consistent theme throughout the novel as well. The “haves”, or the more privileged born into the capitol, will never have to compete in the games whereas the “have nots”, those born into the poorer districts, have no choice. Katniss battles with this discrepancy by barely putting food on the table through hunting, while those in the capitol eat lavishly. All year, the Capitol will show the winning district gifts of grain and oil and even delicacies like sugar while the rest of us battle starvation.




Once at the capitol, Katniss goes through a complete body makeover. Then, with Peeta, she enters the opening ceremonies of the games and undergoes a series of interviews. After a couple of days of group and individual training, Katniss is ready to go into the arena. She is blindfolded until she reaches the arena for the reason of having no advantage over the other contestants. When she arrives, she is below the launching pad. The launching pad is where each contestant starts in the arena when the games begin. The arena can vary from year to year. It can have any climate and it can be in any environment. When Katniss is elevated to the launching pad, she sees the arena for the first time. She sees that all of the contestants are spaced evenly in circle around the cornucopia. The cornucopia is a large horn-shaped object filled with supplies and weapons. At the beginning, people usually get killed fighting for the supplies. There are deciduous woods all around her, which she loves. After Katniss takes in the surroundings, the gong rings and a voice announces, “Let the 74th Hunger Games begin!”

Katniss sprints and picks up a backpack in front of her. Then, she sees a girl aiming a knife at her. Katniss runs away. As she hears the knife hissing toward her, she puts her backpack in front of her head and the knife lodges into it. Katniss continues running until night falls. Throughout the games, she witnesses many barbaric killings. After many days of hunting and being hunted, Katniss realizes she and Peeta are two of the last five survivors. With the numbers dwindling, Katniss and Peeta realize that their best chance of survival is as a team.


Overall, this is one of the best books I have ever read. It is a compelling story which allows the reader to use their imagination. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys adventure. I also would recommend the second book in the series Catching Fire to anybody.





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