Recap: In a post-apocalyptic world, the only way for people to survive is to fight to the death. And so begins the story of The Hunger Games. The country of Panem is divided into 12 districts. Two 12 to 18-year-olds from each district must fight each other in the Hunger Games until only one remains. It’s a sporting event that takes place every year. Teens must fight for their survival, and win not only recognition for his/her district, but a lifetime of food, wealth, shelter, and fame.
Katniss Everdeen offers to play as one of the District 12 representatives in the Games after her younger sister, Prim, is chosen. Katniss simply can’t allow her 12-year-old sister to play. And so Katniss begins training and preparing to enter the arena. She must learn the ways of the Games, the importance of getting sponsors, and at the same time, she must do it alongside her opponent from the same district, Peeta.
The Games go on for a number of weeks. Together and apart, Katniss and Peeta must combat starvation, tracker jacker attacks, fire, and beasts – in addition to the 22 other tributes (as they’re called) trying to kill them. But the relationship between Katniss and Peeta never stays completely professional. Unbeknownst to Katniss, she falls for Peeta, and he does the same.
Analysis: I could not put this book down. Much like J.K. Rowling does with the Harry Potter series, Suzanne Collins creates an entirely different and unfamiliar world with The Hunger Games. The intrigue of the foreign setting pulls the reader in. It then develops further as the actual games begin. One assumes Katniss will win, but then other characters begin to develop. We start to think “No! If Katniss wins, that means Peeta must die! And what about so-and-so and so-and-so?” It becomes too much.
And of course, there’s the love story. No action thriller would be complete without it, right? But it’s the atypical love story – one in which the reader questions whether or not Katniss and Peeta find true love or make it up for show, for the games.
Every plot point consumed me, forcing me to turn the pages, until the final page left me breathless and in desperate and immediate need of the sequel.
MVP: Peeta. Yes, Katniss is the heroine here – a strong, resilient, and humble fighter. But it’s Peeta for whom one feels sympathy. He’s the one holding out for and protecting his love, the one who’s a bit weak physically but has a strong heart. As much as Katniss refuses to admit it, she falls in love with Peeta. And the reader can’t help but do the same.