You live in District 12, you’re a teenager and you’ve managed to avoid being picked to participate in the horrific Hunger Games – until now. What happens next? This is, in essence, the beginning of Suzanne Collins’ YA novel, The Hunger Games.
What are the Hunger Games? It’s sort of a reality TV show, where one boy and one girl from each of the 12 Districts of the country Panem (formerly North America), must compete – to the death. The winner receives food for his or her district. It sounds gruesome, and some ways it is. But at it’s heart, The Hunger Games, and its two sequels (Catching Fire and Mockingjay), are about a sixteen year old girl who ends up being more than just a girl.
The books are dark, very dystopian and often dangerous. But they are also full of life, of hope and fear. In Katniss, Collins creates a strong young woman who is forced to embrace a role she never wanted. Throughout the three novels, we follow Katniss as she embarks on a journey that will change not only her life, but that of all those who surround her – including those she loves most.
Collins’ writing is enthralling, leaving us breathless at the end of both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. While Katniss is not likable (she’s a tough girl, who must illegally hunt animals in order to feed her family), we want her to succeed. She grows as the trilogy continues and Collins does an extraordinary job of making her self-aware, for good or for ill. The books are rough, but unlike so many series, the ending fits perfectly with the previous two novels.
Though these books are marketed for YA readers, they have wide-reaching appeal. Be sure to check out the series.
And if you like dystopian novels, here are some more titles.