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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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Image of The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1)
It's been a long time since a book consumed me to the point where I really didn't want to do anything - eat, work, take out the dog - other than finish it. The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1) is that addictive, to the point where I hollered "nooooo" upon learning that the end of The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1) is only the end of book one, and that author Suzanne Collins has actually written a trilogy. (There are currently 86 people on the Baltimore County library waiting list for the third installment, Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3) . It comes out at the end of August).

The premise of The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1) is grim. North America is gone, and in its place is a land where two children from each territory, or district, are chosen each year to participate in the Hunger Games. The last child alive (out of 24 contestants)in this gladiator-style contest is the winner. District 12's female entry, Katniss Everdeen, becomes a competitor after volunteering to take her little sister's place.

While The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1) is ostensibly about survival in war and violence against children, there's a pretty powerful theme about media and exploitation. The games are televised and celebrated, and the Powers That Be want more than anything to make sure that there's a compelling narrative among their young victims. It's not a big leap to assume that Collins is commenting on the thrills so many Americans get out of watching Survivor and Big Brother. That said, those points are subtle enough. The reader has so much invested in Katniss and the people she interacts with that it far outweighs any social commentary or the fact that the premise of the games doesn't really make sense. (It's something about how rebellion among the plebeians is squashed by sacrificing children. You just have to go with it.)

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1) is wholly original, but I think fans for books ranging from The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1) , The Giver , Nineteen Eighty-Four, Centennial Edition and even the Harry Potter series would enjoy it. The details of all of those have extreme variations, but the themes of community, friendship and of course, the battle between Good and Evil, will hit chords with young adults and their parents. That said, The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1) can be terrifying, so I would recommend that younger readers start out with The Giver .

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