Except for the fact that I'm still a little bit creeped out by the whole idea of human sacrifice, I absolutely loved Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. As I wrote in my Twilight post, I'm not usually a fan of "pop" books and series, but this book is certainly an exception.
Taking place in a future time in North America, Katniss Everdeen narrates a twisted, nail biting adventure. This fabulously feisty female protagonist begins the story by explaining a few things about how this setting came to be. She explains that there are now only twelve districts remaining in what we know as North America. The United States, Canada, and Mexico are no longer existent - not even distant memories. These twelve districts are run by The Capitol, an oppressive governing body located somewhere near the Rocky Mountains. Several years ago, the districts attempted to rise against The Capitol so that they may be independent from the government's control. This rebellion ultimately failed, and the result of this action was the government's creation of the Hunger Games. This system was created as a reminder of the control that the Capitol has over the districts and that even thinking about rebelling again will only end in more destruction.
Katniss is a member of District 12 and she is a rule breaker. She has taken over the role as parent in her family after her loving father died in a coal mining explosion. Kat quickly taught herself to hunt, bargain, and trade in the black market, and quickly became the sole proprietor of food for her mother and little sister. The family is managing fine, until the day called The Reaping comes.
The Reaping is the very beginning of the Hunger Games. All districts gather in their town square for a lottery. Two names are pulled, one boy and one girl, to become the tributes (really, sacrifices) for the district. The drama begins when Katniss's younger sister, only twelve years old, is randomly chosen as a tribute. Unable to bear the thought of her sister participating, Kat instinctively volunteers herself over her sister. The boy, Peeta, is chosen and it is time for the Hunger Games to begin.
So here's how it works: two tributes from each district are selected. The tributes are trained, dressed up, interviewed (kind of like an evil Olympics) and tossed into an arena where the tributes are essentially fighting to the death. Anything goes...weapons, wild animals, weather, starvation, thirst, you name it, the tributes deal with it in the arena. It's shockingly disturbing and a fascinating commentary on governments and humanity, but this book reads like a movie. Beautiful passages that don't let your eyes blink, all the while, cheering your heart out for the protagonist. This book has adventure, social commentary, combat, coming of age, and even a little romance...You have got to check out this book. I just picked up the sequel, so I'll let you know how it goes once that's done. Just give me about four hours and I'm sure I'll finish it :)
Go District 12!!