Keywords: dystopia, science fiction, survival
The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.
When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
This was the book that got me into young adult literature a long, long time ago, in a country far away. I won’t mention the book that got me out of it, that would be mean. The world of Panem is one chillingly real, even today (especially?). I know it’s an older book, but I feel it’s an important one for the genres it serves to represent, and not romance, which I never felt was a point in the story. There was so much more at play than two boys fighting over a girl who was literally trying to keep herself and her little sister alive while being forced to lead a rebellion. The first book does such a fabulous job of building the world and the characters that by the end of it you’re already itching for the second installment, or at least I was.
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