The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
In this post-apocalyptic future, humanity has been reduced to the nation of Panem: a capitol city and twelve districts. Some seventy years before, there were thirteen districts, which rebelled against the Capitol; district 13 was destroyed in the fighting. As a penalty for their rebellion, and a reminder of the Capitol’s power, the remaining districts are forced to compete in the hunger games, an annual competition in which 2 children from each district, chosen by lot, are thrust into an arena and forced to fight to the death for the Capitol’s amusement.
Katniss Everdeen has done everything she can to protect her little sister, Prim. When her sister is selected as the female tribute from district 12, she volunteers to take Prim’s place, fully expecting to die in the arena. Unexpectedly, she finds romance in the Capitol, makes good use of her (illegally developed) hunting skills, and is able to make it out alive and safe..or so she thinks.
In her victory, she has defied the wishes of the Capitol, and the evil president Snow fears that she may become the symbol of a new rebellion. Unrest is rising in the districts; with Katniss’ family and friends threatened, she follows the president’s instructions, only to find the rules have changed and she is again thrust into the arena….but this time, with allies.
After a direct act of defiance that triggers the long-simmering rebellion, Katniss is rescued from the arena by the hovercraft of district 13, which, it turns out, was not destroyed after all. She eventually agrees to continue in her role as the symbol of the rebellion, in exchange for certain concessions from the leaders of district 13. One of those is that when the rebellion succeeds, she will be allowed to kill President Snow, the man responsible for killing so many people she cares for.
On the whole, I enjoyed reading the series, but not enough to actually buy it (as of this writing, all three books are available for free checkout on the Amazon Kindle). The first book is good (but not great); the second is interesting but exists largely to set up the third, and the third feels the weakest of the three. Since book one is fairly self-contained, I recommend reading it and stopping there; it’s an entertaining story.
The nice thing about this series (or at least the first book) is that, like Harry Potter, it’s something that can be easily enjoyed by both teens and adults, and I found it to have been worth reading.