The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins is a novel set in the post-apocalyptic future, when the oceans have swallowed most of the world’s landmasses. What was once North America is now the militaristic dictatorship nation of Panem, which is divided into 12 districts. In service to the Capitol of Panem, as punishment for an attempted revolt against the government 74 years earlier, each district is responsible for sending one boy and one girl tribute between the ages of 12-18 to compete in the annual Hunger Games, a nationally televised competition to the death.
As I’m sure you’ve seen in the film previews, the novel’s heroine is Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers as District 12’s tribute to save her younger sister, 12-year-old Primrose. Of the 24 tributes in the games, the lone survivor is awarded with wealth, a new home, and celebrity status. The poorest of the districts, District 12 has had only 1 victor in all 73 previous games, Haymitch. Haymitch has earned a reputation as the town drunk and is also mentor to Katniss and her male tribute counterpart, the baker’s son, Peeta Mellark.
As if a fight for survival in a game in which teenage murder is expected isn’t enough for the 16-year-old Katniss to handle, during the pre-games televised interview young Peeta confesses to being in love with Katniss. Is it a media ploy to gain sponsors or are his feelings sincere? Can Katniss keep up her half of the act? Could playing into a star-crossed-lovers scenario save her or possibly both of their lives?
The Hunger Games is more than a coming of age novel that touches on teenage melodrama in a realistic manner. Although there is a love triangle, involving an emotionally insecure female lead- the story branches further into themes of dystopian society, media manipulation, greed, murder, and political ethics. The Hunger Games is an accessible avenue for readers of all ages (but young women especially) to discuss important issues.On a final note, unlike the literary pandemic that was Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, The Hungers Games is intelligent youth fiction that neither relentlessly steals reader’s IQ points, nor makes me personally want to shoot myself in the face with a nail gun.