Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publication Date: 2010
Why I Read It
I want to see the movie this weekend! And, I have a rule I follow most of the time…LOL. Must read the book before seeing the movie. And I made it!
Short Synopsis (no spoilers)
For those not in the know, a short run down of the plot: Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12 with her mother and sister, Prim. Their father died years before and Kat supports her family through her hunting and trading prowess. Every year, each District must send two of its young to fight in the yearly Hunger Games. Think Roman gladiatorial games, where fight to death is the only way to win. The two tributes from each district are chosen through a lottery. Not surprisingly, some youth are more statistically likely to be chosen as a tribute than others. Without giving too much away, Kat volunteers as a tribute and is joined by a boy she recognizes from school, Peeta. The rest of the story involves how the games unfold and who ultimately wins.
What I Liked
From the first sentence, I was entranced by Katniss Everdeen’s voice. Suzanne Collins develops Kat’s character first and foremost through her voice as she tells the story of her self selected journey to The Hunger Games. As I read, I couldn’t help but feel Kat was sitting right next to me talking to herself as she told her story. It reminded me of how I think through things and the thoughts that rattle around in my head. Very clear and very introspective. Collins wrote as Kat and even the flashback moments were interwoven so well into the storyline, so as not to cause the reader to stop and try to figure out where in the story one is again.
As for the story itself-I love dystopian stories. Ever since reading books like The Giver, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World, I have been intrigued by the idea of dystopian societies. It’s not that I think dystopias are a good idea, but it is more about trying to figure out how and why a group of people thinks they can create the “perfect” society, while leaving so many miserable. The history teacher inside of me can point to countless real examples of how these ideas have been and still are at work around the world. And, how it almost never works out in the end, for either side. In The Hunger Games, Collins works to paint Panem (Kat’s country) as a society trying to do the best it can to control the population to make life better for those in the Capitol. It is easy to hate Panem and everything about the new society, especially after hearing, from Kat’s POV, how the games came to be and why they are still used.
I read this novel for enjoyment, but as a teacher, my mind is always looking for lessons/themes/ideas to use in my classroom or even with my own daughters. Here are some valuable lessons/ideas I look forward to using in my classroom:
- Dystopian society’s and how they can come into being
- I may use this as the backbone to my Sci Fi class next year, or at least as a beginning hook to get the kids into liking sci fi/fantasy.
- Use of Collins’ writing style–voice–I cannot stress how hard it is to teach voice and audience to students. This book is so well written in Kat’s voice and can be used to show students how to model similar writing.
What I Didn’t Like
Seriously, if I don’t read a YA novel that DOESN’T have a love triangle to it, I may have to … SCREAM! I will be very upset if the next two novels in the series focus more on the love triangle than the idea of beating or overthrowing Panem/Capitol.Without giving too much away, as soon as the love angle became a play in the games, I was almost turned off completely from the story. But, I stuck it out and was pleasantly surprised by how and who played it out in the end.
- Anyone who loved The Giver
- Dystopian novel lovers
- Love Triangle lovers (not me 😦 )
- YA Readers–that includes teachers!