The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games!  The Hunger Games!  That is all I’ve been hearing lately.  Supposedly, the movie adaptation is even more eagerly anticipated than the next (last?) Twilight movie.  The book has been recommended by a few friends and I’ve seen numerous references to it.  All I knew going into it was that there was some girl with a bow in the woods.  That was a good start since I like archery.

The Hunger Games is a teen book that strikes a surprising balance between the extremes of what boys want in a book and what girls want.  It does not do this by blandly serving up a grey oatmeal of an inoffensive middle ground.  Instead it has a base storyline that zigs and zags from a kissy face girly story of the attractive boys that attempt to win the heart of the courageous female lead character and the could-you-survive-on-your-own, brutal fighting, alternate futureverse that boys will eat up.

I can’t speak to how well the author inspires young women with those aspects of the story but I could easily see this being a favorite book of mine growing up.  It has some wonderful similarities to one of my all-time favorites, Robinson Crusoe.  I worried that it would gloss over the actual hunger games event in favor of the personal relationship aspects of the story, but I was delighted to be completely wrong.  In fact, the bulk of the novel centers on what happens during the games themselves and allows the reader to wonder Would I have done that?  Would this way have been better?  Which weapon would I have chosen?

Besides the focus on the games themselves, this book held another surprise for me:  the brutality.  I have a 12-yr old niece and I would not let her read this book right now if she were my child.  Is it anything worse than what you’d read in an adult murder mystery?  Maybe.  Worse than an adult crime drama.  Probably not.  It is the fact that it is for younger readers that it caught me off guard.  I can agree that teens would be just fine reading this book but it would have to be on an individual basis until they were at least mid-teens.

I don’t want to give away anything more about the story so just go read it for yourself.  It is well written, entertaining, and imaginative.  Melanie and I can’t wait to listen to books two and three of the trilogy.

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