It seems like I say this with every Young Adult novel that comes my way, but I mean it every time: The Hunger Games has proven to show that YA has come a long way since I was a kid. I've always been a reader, but if books like this were introduced to me when I was in school I would've stopped attempting all those lame paperback novels by uber popular authors that I only got halfway through. And don't say Harry Potter, because even then I disliked the prepubescent wizard.
Still, I can't help but to see that, much like Harry Potter, Suzanne Collins has given something to the Twilight generation - a strong female role model whose priority is to survive rather than which boy to choose. That's not to say that love doesn't have its part in The Hunger Games - and quite possibly the series - but unlike with the Twilight Saga, fans of The Hunger Games trilogy aren't rallying for Team Gale or Team Peeta.
The America we once knew is gone. In its ashes remains a country called Panem. The country has been divided into districts - 13 in all - and the Capitol, where the wealthiest reside. Before the story opens, a revolution takes place against the Capitol and its people. But it is a failure and as punishment, District 13 is destroyed. And the Hunger Games begin. Each year, every district holds a lottery to see which two children partake in the Hunger Games. One globe holds the names of every girl of the district and one holds those of every boy. The age ranges from 12 to 18. On the first year of an individuals eligibility, one ticket holds his or her name. The number of tickets increases every year and for additional food.
The gist of the Hunger Games is simple to follow. Twenty-four children enter the arena and only one is allowed to leave. Each child is expected to survive using their wits and their strength, no matter what. The violence of the game is aired all over Panem, but it is mostly a pastime for those who inhabit the Capitol. The winner's district, in the end, is awarded food for an entire year and the winner is given a mansion, money and enough to survive for the rest of his or her life. And as Prim Everdeen's name is called out on Reaping Day - the day of the lottery - older sister Katniss volunteers to take the place of her twelve-year-old sister. The second name to be called is that of Peeta Mellark, the son of a baker.
Katniss has skills known throughout District 12 - hunting skills, as well as, survival skills in the wilderness. Illegally, Katniss has been keeping her family alive by hunting the surrounding woods with friend Gale. But on that year's Reaping Day, Katniss is facing her greatest challenge - having to outlive the boy who once helped her survive when her father's life was taken after a mine explosion.
The book takes you into an unimaginable world where young adults - children, even - are placed into the hands of the wealthiest for the sake of survival and national pride. And while Katniss has every intention of surviving the arena - is she ready to take the lives of others her age?
The book is hard to put down. Suzanne Collins gives us a heroine in a world where girls are yearning to be saved by a homoerotic werewolf or sparkling vampire. I hope that The Hunger Games and the books that follow - Catching Fire and Mockingjay (to be released on August 24) - shine some light upon the eyes of the girls blinded by the drivel presented by Stephenie Meyer. Collins has that special touch, yanking every emotion welled up in your hearts - from tears of sadness to those of victory.
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