Monday, November 8, 2010

The Hunger Games (Novel)

The Hunger Games (Novel) Release date: 2008. Author: Suzanne Collins. Publisher: Scholastic Press. ISBN: 9780439023528.

Plot summary: Katniss Everdeen has had to struggle to survive for most of her life. After her father’s death, she has had to support her mother and her younger sister, Prim. The Everdeens live in District 12: the poorest of all the districts in the country of Panem, located in post-apocalyptic North America. Every year, the Capitol holds the Hunger Games. Two tributes, one male and one female, are selected via a lottery from each district. Tributes are under the age of eighteen, and participating in the Hunger Games is mandatory. The actual games take place in the Capitol itself and are televised across Panem. But these Games are no Olympics. Tributes are placed in a large, enclosed arena and must fight to the death to win. The winner of the Games is assured a lifetime of luxury and fame for both themselves and their family. But few from District 12 have ever won the Games. When Prim, is selected as a tribute, Katniss has no choice but to volunteer to take Prim’s place, becoming a player in the Hunger Games. The other tribute from District 12 is Peeta. Katniss, though not friends with Peeta, feels indebted to the boy after a selfless act of kindness he bestowed upon her years before. Using her hunting skills, can Katniss overcome her guilt at having to eventually slay Peeta to win the Games and return to her family?

Critical evaluation: Although the concept of a post-apocalyptic and tyrannical government is nothing new, Suzanne Collins creates an utterly original and riveting story in The Hunger Games that will appeal to teens and adults alike. While the plot of the novel is very interesting, the story is driven more so by the characters than what they encounter. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen is the protagonist and is different from other female leads in young adult novels. Katniss isn’t weak or helpless. She is a fierce fighter. She is sure of herself and her abilities and will not accept anything other than winning the Games, for which she volunteers to save her sister, Prim, and coming home to care for her family. Peeta, the other District 12 tribute, is handsome, sweet and appears to have feelings for Katniss. Katniss does not fall easily for him, however. She is determined to distance herself from Peeta to make his eventual death easier for herself. Another interesting character is Haymitch, the mentor of the young tributes. A hopeless alcoholic, Haymitch acts more as the cruel older brother Katniss never had than the typical father figure one would expect. Collins’ characters are unusual and break from the mold of the teen genre. This, along with the rich descriptions of District 12, the Capitol and the Hunger Games, make for a page-turner that is difficult to put down. A must-read for teens and adults alike.

Reader's annotation: Katniss Everdeen is a survivor: after her father’s death she has had to care for her family in Panem, a postapocalyptic, tyrannical country that keeps its citizens under strict rule. But how will Katniss be able to survive the Capitol’s annual Hunger Games, a televised and brutal fight to the death?   
About the author: Suzanne Collins began her writing career in 1991, writing for children’s television. She was on staff for several popular Nickelodeon shows such as Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. She also wrote for programs on different networks, including Little Bear, Oswald, and Clifford’s Puppy Days. In 2003, Collins released her first children’s novel, Gregor the Overlander. This book was the first in the Underland Chronicles series for which she wrote five more books by 2007. In 2008, Collins published The Hunger Games, the first in her best-selling trilogy. The sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, was published in 2009 and the final book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, was released in August 2010. Since their release, the first two novels of The Hunger Games trilogy have sold over 1.5 million copies in North America alone. The film rights for The Hunger Games have been purchased by Lions Gate Entertainment, and the film version is set to be released in 2013. Collins lives in Connecticut with her husband and children. (
Genre: Science-fiction

Curriculum ties:
Tyrannical governments/government control

Booktalking ideas:
Government control
Television violence

Reading level/Interest Age:
Grade 7 and up

Challenge issues:
Graphic violence
Rebelling against government

Challenge counterpoints:Recommended for grades 7 and up.
Recommend that parent not allow child to read book if parent has issues with violence.
Recommend parent read book before child.
Recommend parent discuss book with child.

Reasons for inclusion:
New York Times bestseller for 60 weeks.
Positive reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal and Booklist.

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