Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date: September 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0439023481

Plot Summary: In a futuristic version of North America called Panem, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives in the poverty-striken District 12 (specifically in The Seam, which used to be called Appalachia), where she and her best friend Gale illegally hunt in the forest to provide for their families.  When the annual reaping occurs, a drawing to determine who will participate in the Hunger Games, her younger sister, Prim, is selected and Katniss intervenes to volunteer as the female tribute.  Along with the male tribute, Peeta, and their drunken mentor, Haymitch, Katniss travels to the Capitol to take place in the televised combat-based survival “game” which leaves one living victor.  Katniss finds herself playing for the cameras and giving the audience what they want, a survival tactic that leads to acting out a doomed love story with Peeta.  Does she have a chance of surviving the games?  How does she really feel about Peeta?  And most importantly, does she have a chance to retaliate against the Capitol that subjugates the Districts by killing their children in these games?

Critical Evaluation: The Hunger Games is a terrific example of excellent young adult literature that has a wide appeal, even to an adult audience.  The first installment in a proposed trilogy (the sequel, Catching Fire, is already released and the final book, Mockingjay, comes out in August 2010), Suzanne Collin’s dystopian vision of a desolate North America has all the ingredients of a compelling story – an engaging and resourceful narrator, an oppressive government, a life-and-death situation, and even a love story for the tender romantics.  While the violence between the young adversaries is disturbing, Collins makes it clear that the real evil is the influence of the corrupt Capitol that facilitates the mandatory games.

This book raises some ethical questions that aren’t clearly answered, requiring the reader to contemplate their beliefs.  Are the tributes wrong for murdering each other, and should they be held accountable?  Is it fair for Katniss to exaggerate her feelings for Peeta if his are genuine?  The Hunger Games leaves a mark on readers and gets them excited for the following installments.

Reader’s Annotation: In a post-apocalyptic version of North America, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to participate in the Hunger Games in order to protect her younger sister from dying in the combat-based survival game.  Does she have a chance of surviving, and can she strike back against the Capitol that enforces these televised games of mortal combat?

Author Information: Suzanne Collins was born on November 21, 1947.  Her father was an air force officer, which had an influence on her future writing, because he wanted his children to understand the impact of battle and its consequences.  Collins received her M.F.A. from New York University in Dramatic Writing and went on to become a writer for children’s television shows.  She worked on several Nickelodeon shows in the 90s, including Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, before meeting the children’s author James Proimos, who encouraged her to try writing books.  She currently lives in Connecticut with her family, which consists of her husband, Cap, their daughter and son, and three feral cats that they’ve adopted from their backyard.

Collins was inspired to write The Hunger Games when she was channel-surfing between war coverage and a reality TV show, of which she says, “I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way.”  She was also influenced by the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, in which Athens requires tributes of 14 young people from Crete to be sent in the monster’s labyrinth. (Source)

Genre: Science Fiction

Curriculum Ties: Could be used in a unit on Greek mythology to compare with the story of Theseus.

Booktalking Ideas:
1) What factors helped Katniss survive the games?
2) Contrast her relationships between Gale and Peeta.
3) If you haven’t read Catching Fire, try to predict what happens next.  What are the consequences of standing against the Capitol?
4) Try to think of historical examples that contrast great wealth and great poverty within a society.

Interest Age: 11 and older.

Challenge Issues: violence and death, sleeping with the opposite gender (not in a sexual context)

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and others available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: This book was required reading for this course, but I almost definitely would have chosen it because of its popularity.  It was suggested to me as a favorite from another SLIS student who enjoys young adult literature.

Extras:

Suzanne Collins website.

Link to Amazon Book Video of The Hunger Games.

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April 14, 2010 - Posted by | Books |

1 Comment »

  1. […] After reading The Hunger Games as a requirement for this course, I was eager to read the next installment of the […]

    Pingback by Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins « Caroline the Future Librarian | May 5, 2010 | Reply


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