In a post-apocalyptic United States called Panem there now exists only the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, the Capitol requires two Tributes from each district, a boy and a girl, to compete in the televised Hunger Games in a battle to the death. The winner receives fame, fortune, food, and a life of relative ease. Children are eligible for the Hunger Games from ages 12-18 and sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen has avoided the Reaping for 4 years now, every year standing strained and anxious expecting to hear her name called. To her horror, this year it is her 12 year old sister’s name which rings out across the square. She lurches forward to put herself in Prim’s place and so begins the 74th Hunger Games.
Hunger Games is a rising star in young adult literature right now and will no doubt get even more popular when the next book in the series, Catching Fire, is published next month. Katniss is a wonderfully complex young heroine who finds herself on shaky ground physically AND mentally in the Hunger Games Arena yet manages to remain true to herself the entire time. The choices she is forced to make will often make you cringe, but admiration is hot on that cringe’s heels! I can hardly believe I haven’t cracked the cover on the advanced reading copy I picked up in Chicago, but such is the life of a librarian…too much to read and not enough eyeballs to shoehorn it all in.
Starred reviews all over the place, celebrity endorsements out the wazoo (Stephenie Meyers AND Stephen King), a strong and intelligent heroine and some pretty decent world building make this novel a must read for the year. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy!