Module 5 – Fantasy and Science Fiction/SLIS 5420
Collins, Suzanne. (2008). The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic.
The Hunger Games series is something of a phenomenon now, and I can see why. This book was one of my favorite reads this semester. It’s ingenious, well-written, fast-paced dystopic science fiction that you really don’t want to end. I can’t wait to read the other books. Katniss lives in District 12 with her mother and sister. She provides most of the family sustenance by hunting in the woods (which is forbidden, but the local politicos will look the other way because she trades with them). The society in which Katniss lives is dismal and post-apocalyptical; something very bad happened here, and no one has really recovered. Once called North America, the country is now called Panem and is ruled by the leaders who live in the Capitol. The country is divided into districts, and each district is known for its resource (District 12 is the coal district). Most people are poor and technology is very limited. In the Capitol, however, lives are decadent and resources and technology are plentiful. Every year the oppressive government, to show their complete control over the districts, forces all of the children over twelve to participate in a lottery. A boy and a girl from each district are chosen and sent to the Capitol to compete in the Hunger Game, a televised fight to the death. The winner goes home rich and famous. The losers don’t just lose the game – they lose their lives. Now it’s Katniss’s turn. Will she die fighting in the Hunger Games, or will she be the victor – and at what cost?
Grades 9-12. “This is a grand-opening salvo in a new series by the author of the Underland Chronicles. Sixteen-year-old Katniss poaches food for her widowed mother and little sister from the forest outside the legal perimeter of District 12, the poorest of the dozen districts constituting Panem, the North American dystopic state that has replaced the U.S. in the not-too-distant future. Her hunting and tracking skills serve her well when she is then cast into the nation’s annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death where contestants must battle harsh terrain, artificially concocted weather conditions, and two teenaged contestants from each of Panem’s districts. District 12’s second “tribute” is Peeta, the baker’s son, who has been in love with Katniss since he was five. Each new plot twist ratchets up the tension, moving the story forward and keeping the reader on edge. Although Katniss may be skilled with a bow and arrow and adept at analyzing her opponents’ next moves, she has much to learn about personal sentiments, especially her own. Populated by three-dimensional characters, this is a superb tale of physical adventure, political suspense, and romance.”
Booklist (2008, September 1). Review of The Hunger Games. Retrieved from http://www.titlewave.com
The Hunger Games is the perfect book for a book study by a group of students or for a booktalk that could include activities such as acting out scenes, discussion of themes, analysis of the government portrayed in the book, creation of a group graphic novel (group builds a large graphic novel with several key scenes as a team). This book, if read in school, can spark debate about politics and society, the individual vs the group, and a comparison to the ever prevalent pheonomenon of reality television. When studying the formation of a new government such as the one created in the US, the book can be an enlightening tool to talk about democracy and other forms of government. This book is suitable for high school students and possibly upper level middle school. The violence may be of concern in some settings. The book evokes The Lottery and Lord of the Flies and could be used for a reading section that includes those books. The triumph of the human spirit as portrayed in The Hunger Games is what truly makes the book outstanding.
Booklist starred 9/1/08
Horn Book starred 9/1/08
Library Media Connection starred 11/1/01
Publishers Weekly starred 11/3/08
School Library Journal starred 9/1/08