Let the games begin! It’s some time in the (not so distant?) future and what was once America is now Panem, a glittering Capitol in the Rockies, surrounded by twelve miserably oppressed districts. As a yearly reminder of their helplessness, the Capitol requires each district to conduct “Reapings” where one boy and one girl are chosen to compete in the Hunger Games.
Katniss Everdeen (cool name for a cool girl!) lives in District 12, what was once Appalachia, with her mother and little sister Prim. When Prim’s name is drawn at the Reaping, Katniss volunteers herself to take Prim’s place. Soon Katniss and Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son, are off to the Capitol for the Hunger Games, a deadly reality show televised to all of Panem where the 24 kids, or Tributes, from the districts must compete in a kill or be killed survival game with no rules except that you can’t eat your opponents.
One of the fun things about writing these book reviews is how it has made me realize that I’m always drawn to certain types of books. Dystopian futuristic themes (The Road by Cormac McCarthy or The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood) always pull me in and this one is no different. Though there are similar ideas out there, Collins does a first rate job of building the suspense, making it next to impossible to read to the end of a chapter and stop. Will Katniss become the first Tribute from District 12 to win the Hunger Games in years? Does Peeta genuinely care about Katniss, or is he weaving a “star crossed lovers” story to garner sympathy from the viewers? And what about Rue, the young slip of a girl from District 11 who reminds Katniss so much of her sister Prim? There can only be one winner of the Hunger Games.