Four of five stars
Once upon a time in the not-too-near future, the United States lies in ruins, and in its place is Panem, with a glittering Capitol City at its center and 12 outlying districts supplying the City’s needs. Life in the districts is hard, and nowhere is it harder than in District 12, where 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives with her widowed mother and little sister Prim.
All Katniss wants to do is provide for her family, and so she hunts illegally in the forest outside the district fence. She works tirelessly and lives in fear each day of being caught and punished. But, more than being caught poaching, she fears being chosen for the Hunger Games, a mandatory annual competition in which 24 teenagers, one boy and one girl from each district, are selected to fight to the death on national television.
Outwit, Outplay, Outlast, my Aunt Fanny: Survivor ain’t got nothin’ on the Hunger Games.
When 12-year-old Prim’s name is pulled from the box, however, Katniss volunteers to go as tribute in her place. She and the other tribute, baker’s son Peeta, travel to Capitol City to take their place in the arena, and face what is likely certain death for both of them. Their mentor, Haymitch, the only winner District 12 has ever produced, has other ideas. And an unlikely strategy that just might give them an edge.
But the rules state that there can be only one winner. Victory. Or death. Those are the only options. Because she’s our heroine, we know going in that Katniss must come out the victor, but how she gets to the winner’s circle is a harrowing, fretful journey indeed. And one entirely worth taking along with her.
I started The Hunger Games on a Friday evening and finished it the next day by mid-afternoon. I can hardly wait to start the next book.