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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

THE STORY:

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the other districts in line by forcing them to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight-to-the-death on live TV. One boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and sixteen are selected by lottery to play. The winner brings riches and favor to his or her district. But that is nothing compared to what the Capitol wins: one more year of fearful compliance with its rule. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her impoverished district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. Collins delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this stunning novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.

WHY I LOVED IT:

The dystopian future Collins has created is horrifically original in young adult fiction but it takes only a slight stretch to imagine us going there. In an interview, she describes how the idea germinated while lying half asleep in front of the television one night and flicking between reality television shows where teens compete for money and news coverage of the Iraq war. Her setting and characters are richly developed and fascinating. Katniss is a strong protagonist, and while there is ultimately some romantic tension, she never loses her role as a believable, inspiring young woman. My sixteen year old and her friends flew through the first two books in the series and dying for the release date of Aug 24 for the third.

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