The Hunger Games // Suzanne Collins
Overview: The nation of Panem is composed of twelve districts surrounding the luxurious Capitol at its center. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen resides in the poorest and most degraded of the districts -- District 12 -- with her mom and younger sister Prim. After her father's death Katniss had to quickly learn how to hunt and barter in order to provide what little she could for her family, but what she doesn't know is that her ability to hunt with a bow might be what saves her life in the Hunger Games. After the districts attempted to rebel against it, the Capitol created the Hunger Games as a way of both punishing and reinforcing their power over the districts. Each year one boy and one girl from each district are selected from the lottery system of the Reaping as tributes for the annual Hunger Games. Once in the arena they're forced to kill one another in a game of survival in which there can only be one victor as the districts are forced to watch. After volunteering to save her sister, Katniss must make the impossible decision about whether or not taking human life is worth surviving.
My Thoughts: As with my review of Fahrenheit 451 this isn't my first time reading The Hunger Games. In fact, the first time I read this book I was in fifth grade and I read the entire series; however, for the purposes of content control I'm only going to discuss the first book in this trilogy. Originally inspired by Greek mythology and Roman gladiators, it's not difficult to pick out the heavily influenced scenes such as when the tributes enter the Captiol square on horse-driven chariots. In my opinion, this European inspiration adds much needed depth that other young adult novels about rebelling teenagers lack.
The Hunger Games is an easy, young adult read that touches on issues that are currently relevant to our world including hunger, child exploitation, outrageous fashion/beauty standards, and government control. The book has been banned in many schools for the emphasis on human suffering as well as the various graphically detailed killing scenes; however, I believe that if Collins had censored these themes then the point of government control over the citizens of Panem would be completely lost. Overall, If you're looking for an action-packed, dystopian novel then The Hunger Games would be a great pick -- there's even some humor and a complicated love triangle thrown into the mix.