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Friday, August 5, 2011

Recommended Summer Vacation Reading: "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins.

Just returned from a fun stay at a lovely cottage on Lake Erie in Cedar Bay, Ontario.  I selected three books to bring on this trip, one of which was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Perhaps you've already heard of it.  The Hunger Games is ranked number three in sales at Amazon.  At the moment it has 2,674 Amazon customer reviews.  Scores of school districts have put this young-adult novel on the summer reading list for their students.  If you know an avid, young reader and ask if she has read The Hunger Games, the answer will very likely be 'yes'.

In addition to a huge readership, the book is being made into a movie with Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) playing the lead character, Katniss Everdeen.

All this buzz and success is for a young-adult book published in 2008 which, importantly, is not about vampires.  But is The Hunger Games a good read for adults?  Absolutely.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world on the land formerly occupied by the United States.  In this world, the territory is divided into 12 districts and governed by one wealthy region called the Capitol.  Citizens of the 12 districts are generally poor and essentially enslaved to the Capitol region.  At one point, the districts rebelled but that effort was quashed by the governing power.  To commemorate the defeat of this rebellion, and re-enforce the districts continuing position of enslavement, the Capitol hosts an annual event called the Hunger Games.  For the Hunger Games, a boy and a girl from each district is randomly selected to participate in a televised, fight-to-the-death in an outdoor arena.  The winner is the last person standing.

The novel's heroine is a 16-year-old named Katniss.  Katniss and a teenage boy named Peeta are the representatives from District 12 for the 74th Hunger Games.  The novel tells the story of what happens to them at those games.

The Hunger Games is a very engaging and exciting read.  Its various themes, including the dual importance of individual liberty and the benefits of cooperation, are plainly set forth but not overdone or preachy.  And while this science fiction story is set in a post-apocalypse period, this is not Mad Max / Thunder Dome; the action includes plenty of technology to keep things interesting.   

I very much enjoyed reading The Hunger Games and recommend it is an excellent selection for a vacation or beach book.  And if you read it and like it there is more good news:  The Hunger Games is the first book of a trilogy. 

The Hunger Games is highly recommended reading.

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