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The Hunger Games ~ Suzanne Collins

August 8, 2009

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Publisher: Scholastic Press

374 pages

ISBN: 9780439023481

The government that was the United States has disintegrated, giving rise to a new patriarch regime, classist and oppressive to the core. The citizens of Panem have no choice but to go along with a bureaucracy that would give Big Brother the willies. They did try to rise up once but the government came down so hard that no one has tried since. Their punishment for rebellion? Each year every district must set up a lottery, sending one child between 12 and 18 (via lottery) to play in a deeply sadistic form of entertainment for the fat cats and kitties in the capitol. the children chosen are to fight to the death. their last one standing receives eternal riches and glory.

There is, of course, a boy meets girl story but I was not as touched by that as I was by the political commentary. It is also hard to go into any sort of description. as with many science fiction stories without explaining an entirely different world. I will say, though, that Katniss and Peeta, female and male tributes from District 12 were wonderfully well done, Katniss coming in as one of my favorite literary female characters. Of course, the romance arc was not really the point, although it did worlds of good in terms of hooking a teen audience as well as a YA-reading adult one.

Under the surface of the teen drama, Hunger Games is a hard, blunt look at the way war is “played” by adults in high towers, using children to act out their slightest whims and grudges. I appreciated Collins’s nod to the way class is worked into the twisted mix of politics and military. Each child up for selection during the yearly “reaping” (the game lottery) may put his or her name in multiple times if his or her family needs more supplies or wishes to protect a family member from being drawn. For these entrants, participation is a life or death matter whereas the upper class children are trained for glory and honor, giving them a much higher chance of actually surviving the games. Of course, the children of the capitol are completely exempt from entry. This rings true as a parallel throughout history where the rich are excused and the poor are expendable when it comes to battle.

Throughout the book there are allusions and asides to deeper and more vague social references which, I am sure will turn up again in the second and third book in the trilogy. Needless, to say this gets a thumbs up from me, going down in history as a book that should be required by students and adults. If you haven’t read it, do so, right now. This is a political satire sure to make Swift and Orwell proud.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 9, 2009 2:05 pm

    Great review. This has been on my list for awhile now.

  2. August 9, 2009 9:38 pm

    I’ve never thought about this book in terms of war. That’s a really good analogy. This has been one of my favorite books of 2009. I’ve read it now 3 times this year. Yes, I’m that much fo a dork. I can’t wait to read Catching Fire.

  3. August 13, 2009 10:51 am

    Glad you enjoyed this book. I just recommended it to my neighbor for her kids (17 & 19 years old) and I think they will really enjoy it. I got to read an ARC of book two, Catching Fire, while on vacation and thought it was even better than the first!

  4. stacybuckeye permalink
    August 13, 2009 12:35 pm

    This is on my list and every new glowing review makes me want to rush right out an buy it!

  5. November 18, 2012 10:44 am

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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