Take Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and mix with the Olympics. Blend in all that’s evil about reality televison, add a dash of “Romeo & Juliet,” and you’ll end up with something not nearly as irrestible as “The Hunger Games.”
This book, despite being geared toward Young Adults (of whom, sadly, I am not), was so compelling and original that I flipped back to the beginning to read again as soon as completing the last page.
“The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins, is set in the future, in what was once the United States. Now the nation is divided into districts, each surrounding and supporting the Capitol. All resources and wealth are bottled in the Capitol, while the districts’ starving residents supply labor and, when it’s time for the annual Hunger Games, the entertainment.
To keep the districts from rebelling, the Capitol created the games. Players are selected from among each districts’ children, one boy and one girl, through a lottery system.
Only these games are literally life and death.
Every citizen is required to watch as the children brutally murder to be the last survivor. This child is then lauded as a hero for her district, which, for the next year, will have slightly more provisions because of the win. The heroine of the book is 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, tough and brave, who volunteers to play to spare her little sister.
While the horrific concept and brutal action makes putting down “The Hunger Games” impossible, a tender love triangle and its poignant conclusion has nearly the same effect.
Two sequels are planned for the book, but the ending was satisfying. It’s not like in some series, where readers feel cheated with an abrupt, cliff-hanger ending. Still, I’ll be among the first in line when Collins releases the next book.