Although I was wary of reading the Hunger Games, for I was not sure if I would like the idea of a futuristic setting and a theme of death, I was thoroughly surprised by how much I, and many other readers have enjoyed this first book in a 3 part series. The Hunger Games introduces readers to the main character Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old girl living in the country of Panem (formerly North America) which was destroyed and it’s civilization almost lost. The people of Panem primarily live in the formerly known Appalachian Mountain region, which include 12 Districts and the capital of the country, in which the more well-off citizens live and the government known as the Capitol, has it’s headquarters. In District 12, where Katniss lives, she and the other citizens are no strangers to suffering and despair. Constantly scrounging for food, work and medicine are apart of the daily struggles for District 12 residents, though many live on and work through their suffering. Each year, for the past 74 years, a competition has taken place known as the Hunger Games, which shows how much power the government wields and is in response to a rebellion against the communist government which took place years ago by District residents. In the Games, a boy and girl from each of the 12 Districts between the ages of 12-18 are picked randomly and made famous to the country of Panem. After interviews and appearances, similar to reality television, these contestants are thrown into a competition in which they are locked in an arena of various types of geographical means, with barely any resources to survive. In order to win, contestants make alliances and kill each other off until there is only one contestant left who is crowned victor of the games. The incentive to win is the District gifts and rewards from the wealthier residents of the Capitol are given to their favorite Tribunes, which increases Tribune popularity in the public and causes greater grief for each District when their Tribunes are killed. This year seems no different for Katniss Everdeen, until her younger sister, Prim, is called to participate. She takes her sister's place as Tribute in order to save her. At this point in the book, I realized that the theme of death I was predicting would take place in the book was actually that of adventure, deception and community. The moment Katniss decides to volunteer as Tribune for the Hunger Games – she realizes her life will never be the same. Whether she dies or not, either way she will have to hunt, kill and make sacrifices for her family. Along with Katniss is Peeta Mellark, the boy Tribune from District 12. As they make their way to through preparation for the Games, which includes a makeover, skilled training and feasting, none of which the residents of the Districts are accustomed to, Peeta’s influence on Katniss is apparent. Peeta believes that the Capitol is making a mockery of the Tribunes, letting them gorge on food and be remade to look beautiful only to have 23 of them compete to die, with 1 victor who will live a life of regret for the deaths they had to witness and complete. Instead, Peeta believes that at least if he dies in the Games, he should show the Districts that the Capitol does not have complete control over the Tribunes. Katniss and him are advised to be starcrossed lovers, in order to protect their fate and have greater popularity among viewers. What begins as only a quest for survival places Katniss and Peeta in the hands of fate and skill, and for the first time since the last uprising of the Districts 74 years prior, possible anarchist ideas spread by these two unassuming rebels.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
February 16, 2012