Katniss Everdeen has had a tough life. She lives in District 12, the poorest district in the country of Panem, once known as North America, and in the poorest part of District 12 known as the Seam. When her father died, Kat became her family’s support system as her mother gave into grief and her sister, Prim, was too young to bear the burden. Now, at 16, Kat illegally hunts to keep her family alive. Things are going as well as they can until it is time once again for the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games take place once a year. 24 teens are chosen to participate, two from each district, one boy and one girl. Each teen is on their own, fighting to the death against each other in unknown terrain. Only one teen can win; it is survival of the fittest. This year, despite every safeguard Kat has put in place, Prim’s name is called. Kat cannot bear the thought of her young, innocent sister in the Hunger Games, so Kat does the unthinkable for her district and volunteers to go in place of her sister. Kat knows how to survive, she’s been keeping her family alive for years, but can she outwit, out-maneuver, and overcome those contestants who have had lives of priviledge and years of training for the games? Kat will be tested in ways she never imagined as she strives to endure the Hunger Games.
Reaction: I can definitely see why The Hunger Games has been floating around as a possible contender for the Printz this year. It is a wonderful story with broad appeal, both emotional and action-packed. Collins has a wonderful way with words. Readers are given enough background to understand what is going on and how Kat came to be the person she is without being bogged down with over-description. Katniss is an amazing and complex character. She has such a hard time loving people and an even harder time trusting, due to the hard knocks she’s been handed, but when she loves and when she trusts she does so with her whole being. Her emotions, and sometime the lack thereof, play a large part in the games. I felt very sorry for Katniss because she spends much of the time holding herself back from others; survival is her main goal but she does not understand what she might be missing out on by shutting others out. While the story line is basically wrapped up in the end, there are still so many unanswered questions and so much uncertainty regarding the future that I cannot wait for the next installment to see where Collins is going to take us next.
Cover: I know I tend to comment on cover art a bit much but I am a firm believer in the power of covers to make or break a book. With Hunger Games, since it is getting such great publicity, I don’t think this will be the case, and the cover isn’t bad, I just think that it could have been better. My first reaction to the cover was, “This looks like an adult book.” The size (smaller in length and width than the average adult hardback) helps distinguish it as teen but I’m not a fan of the old-school, rigid block lettering for the title and I think it is, overall, a bit too simplistic. Also, while the gold emblem will mean something to those who read the book, it means nothing to people simply browsing for a good title. I think it was a good idea to use the emblem for the cover but I wish it had been incorporated into an illustration instead of being the sole focus. Finally, I’m sure I will be the only one to make this connection, but the cover reminded me of the packaging of this product…maybe not the best association for me to make with a teen book.
Booktrailer (My new favorite things!):