This dystopian novel by Suzanne Collins is set in post apocalyptic USA where there are 12 districts left in Panem, all vying for whatever is left in natural resources, especially food. The Capitol demand a pair of sacrifices from each district every year as a reminder of their subservience. The Games are televised nationally and are fought to the death.
This book is the start of a trilogy and I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEXT ONE! On the cover, Stephen King comments on the suspense, and he is spot on.
Collins' novel features exactly the sort of kick-ass girl I think there should be more of in YA fiction.
From the opening scene I knew I would like Kaitness Everdeen; she's spunky, brave and loyal. She provides for her family by hunting illegally and she has developed skills which serve her well when she gets to the Hunger Games in the Capitol. She is a complex character though; she feels deeply and responds to the unnecessary deaths with sensitivity.
These killings might make some younger readers uncomfortable, but they are handled well and make sense in terms of character and narrative. Like all speculative fiction, the reality television of today is taken to its logical conclusion- and Collins asks the reader to consider the extent to which those in power go to keep others subjugated.
While the plotting was pacy and engaging, perhaps there could have been more in terms of the political in the novel. Although Kaitness and Peeta both question the society in the Capitol and their methods of controlling others, they can't do much to protest in their situation. Perhaps there will be more of this in the next couple of texts. There's much to discuss here with a class about society, inequality and protest.
One little gripe, there were two sentences that made me stop because they were missing words. C'mon editors! Young readers, perhaps more than adults, deserve better proof-reading.
There are hints of Margo Lanagan's short story Singing My Sister Down and the classic Shirley Jackson story The Lottery here. Both of them would be excellent companion texts when teaching this novel. And if you were teaching Lord of the Flies, then this might be an easier/ more enjoyable option for some readers.
- girls wanting a protagonist who can take care of herself without mooning around longing for lurve (but there is a love triangle here too.)
- boys too would like the pacy, action packed adventure
- readers ready to move into sci-fi, this could be a stepping stone to some classic reads
- How far would you go for self-preservation?
- Plot out the next two books- predict what might happen to some of the characters
- Invent your own dystopia- extrapolate a current issue to its logical conclusion.
Discussion notes here from Scholastic.
Happy reading :)
Happy reading :)