Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins

Hunger Games Suzanne Collins Book
by Suzanne Collins

Book Comments & Discussion

The Hunger Games is a novel that was written by Suzanne Collins and published in 2008 by Scholastic. Intended primarily for teens and other young adults, The Hunger Games tells the story of 16 year old Katniss Everdeen and her survival in the post-apocalyptic kingdom of Padem. Padem, which used to be North America, is divided into 12 separate districts that are all ruled over by a single tyrannical city known only as the Capital. 75 years before the events of The Hunger Games take place, all the districts of Padem rose up in a rebellion against the Capital and were brutally crushed. As punishment for the rebellion each district since that time has been forced to send two of their adolescent children, one girl and one boy aged 12 to 18, to compete in a televised gladiatorial competition to the death called the Hunger Games.

By the time that The Hunger Games begins, the 12 districts of Padem have been put into a condition of extreme poverty and borderline subsistence. In order to provide for her family Katniss has learned how to hunt with a bow and arrow and already knows methods of survival that will serve her well in the future. The contestants in the Hunger Games are chosen each year by a lottery to which all families in the 12 districts are subject. When Katniss's sister Primrose is chosen by the lottery to compete in that year's Hunger Games she volunteers to go in her place. She is joined by Peeta Mellark, the son of a baker who she already knows from school and who she has fond feelings for because she can remember when he gave her a loaf of bread to feed her starving family.

Katniss and Peeta go to the Capital to prepare for the games and to be interviewed by the crass television presenter Caesar Flickerman. The Hunger Games have become a great spectacle for the citizens of the Capital with many people choosing their favorites from among the contestants and sending them various gifts of tools and medicine to help them compete.

During the interview with Flickerman, Peeta reveals both to Katniss and to the television audience that he has always been in love with Katniss though for her part she's never seemed to return his feelings. Katniss dismisses this to herself as simply his attempt to gain audience sympathy which has become a matter of basic survival for the contestants in the Hunger Games.

Both Peeta and Katniss also meet Haymitch Abernathy, who as a former victor of the Hunger Games is supposed to take them under his wing and provide them with guidance on how to compete. Abernathy is haunted by his memories of when he played in the Hunger Games, however, and spends most of his time drinking and is unwilling at first to provide them with much advice.

During the first day of the Hunger Games 11 of the 24 contestants are killed, either by each other or by the many death traps that are lain throughout the contest field. Katniss survives using her hunting skills knowledge of outdoor survival. As the Hunger Games continue Katniss meets and befriends another contestant, the 12 year old Rue, who reminds her of her sister. Rue is then killed by another contestant. Katniss sings to her as she dies and then spreads flowers over her body as a sign that she is unwilling to play the contest in the cutthroat way that the members of the Capital would have her play it.

Both Katniss and Peeta have become audience favorites due to his earlier confession of love and the rules are changed midway through the Hunger Games when it is announced that two members from the same district can both win the Hunger Games together. After hearing this Katniss searches for Peeta and finds him wounded and then nurses him back to health. In order to further gain audience sympathy Katniss pretends that she is falling in love with him while she tends to his injuries, which ensures that they'll continue to receive the gifts that allow for their survival.

Due to the gifts they receive and Katniss's skills at survival, the two survive the other contestant's assaults until they are the only two remaining. The rules are then changed again when it is announced that the Hunger Games can now only be won by one contestant and that one of them will have to kill the other.

Rather than play along with this, Katniss takes several very highly poisonous berries that she has in her pouch and offers some to Peeta, so that they can both die together and deny the citizens of the Capital the satisfaction of having a winner.Seeing this, the producers of the Hunger Games then change the rules again and announce that both Katniss and Peeta will be the winners of that year's Hunger Games.

Katniss is given an enthusiastic reception from crowds in the Capital but is then warned by Haymitch that she has become a target for openly defying the will of the country's authoritarian rulers. Her situation at the end of the book is further complicated when she realizes that she has developed actual feelings for Peeta and that she will regret leaving him as it seems must inevitably happen.

The Hunger Games are told from Katniss's point of view as Collins has developed a unique voice in her character. Katniss is somewhat cynical after all that she has seen but she also has a strong sense of morality and human dignity. Despite the hardships that her character has experienced, she only ever seems to become stronger and braver when faced with new obstacles.

The Hunger Games comments in many ways on today's contemporary society. The decadence and the crassness of the citizens of the Capital reflects in an exaggerated way on some of the preoccupations of today's society. At the same time, Katniss seems to embody what is best about us and what Collins wishes to encourage us to further become.

The Hunger Games is a tightly written thriller that also contains a serious discussion of real moral issues and concerns. It is an excellent book for the younger reader and will likely still be highly entertaining for older readers as well.
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The stunning Hunger Games trilogy is complete!The extraordinary, ground breaking New York Times bestsellers The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, along with the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay, are available for the first time ever in e-book. Stunning, gripping, and powerful. The trilogy is now complete!
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