If You Hunger for Quality: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Honestly for a few months I saw this book in stores and thought, “That looks too intense.  Not for me.”  Then, when I realized “The Hunger Games” was something I needed to read if I was going to be up-to-date with the world of YA Fiction, I got the audiobook.
Within a few chapters I realized this book was not just some throw away.  My husband and I were riveted to this story!
Katniss, the heroine, lives in District 12,  one of the districts in Panem, a futuristic distopian version of the United States.  To remind the 12 districts of their failed revolt and that the Capitol is in complete control over their lives the Capitol requires each district to send two teenagers to the annual Hunger Games where they will fight to the death.  A fight to the death that is broadcast on national television twenty four hours a day.
This year, Katniss’s little sister, Prim, is selected, and Katniss surprises everyone by volunteering to take Prim’s place, and fight alongside the other District 12 Tribute, Peeta.

I will admit, although the lead up to the Games is interesting, it can also be slow at times. When the Games themselves start, however, this book is completely impossible to put down. Katniss is such a strong female character; tough but vulnerable,clever but unwilling to be used as the Capitol’s toy.  Who are her friends and who are her enemies? Can Katniss possibly win against 23 other competitors, many of whom are better-trained? Will she be forced to let Prim and District 12 down?

This is the first in a trilogy. I have read all three (Catching Fire and Mockingjay) and they’re just as mesmerizing as the first. Katniss, despite her faults, wins you over. As does Peeta, “the boy with the bread”.   It is so refreshing to find such a fiercely loyal, honest, and lovable heroine.  She may even be one of the most well written characters in modern Young Adult literature.

The book is exciting, riveting, and at times scary.  Yes there is quite a bit of violence involving teens.  Suzanne Collins does not include this violence unnecessarily however.  The point of this, at times graphic, violence is to illustrate just how disturbing it is.  Even more so, how disturbing it is when viewed as entertainment on nonstop reality television.

If I’ve frightened you with the talk of violence…wait!!  There is also a love triangle!  YES!! Katniss is caught between her feelings for Peeta, the boy who’s loved Katniss from afar for years, or Gayle, Katniss’ loyal best friend.

In my opinion, this book is for 6th grade and up.  Some of the violence may be too intense for anything younger.  Also, some of the concepts (distopia, critique of reality T.V. etc…) may be to mature for anything younger than 6th grade.