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After reading the first few pages of The Hunger Games, I was really enjoying the novel.  Subject matter involving the future, corrupt government, dystopian societies, and the way ordinary people survive in such situations is extremely interesting to imagine.  Although Collins may have intended her novel be read by a younger audience, I had no trouble placing myself in the role of the adolescent Katniss, struggling to care for her family and herself.  Somehow, despite the fact that readers of the novel in today’s society live different lives from those within the story, many similarities can be drawn between the two worlds, which make it easy to relate to both characters and circumstances.

Since the struggles of the characters in the novel with governmental supremacy and emotional confusion of adolescence are so relatable, it is all the more touching and shocking to find that mere children are offered up as sacrifices and punishment for the past rebellion by the government.  Of all the people in the district, how could Peeta and Katniss be the ones chosen for the Games?  Are the Games even keeping the people from rebellion?

There are moments of the text, which I felt were extremely predictable.  From the moment both Peeta and Katniss are chosen as contenders for the Games, I knew what the future would hold for them. Katniss mentions the bond she feels with Peeta is strong, because he saved her and her family from starving by giving her bread.  From this, an astute reader observes she could not kill him.  More importantly, in order to show Panem that the Gamemakers do not have complete control over the contenders or the citizens of the Districts; in the end, the only solution which might result in a positive solution for the greater good of a number of people would be for Peeta and Katniss to be choose death over killing each other.  This way there might be a chance for the people of Panem to see that the government does not control every aspect of their existence.

Despite its level of predictability, the novel remains engaging due to the author’s talents, which entertain her audience with a combination of emotional encounters between Peeta and Katniss and surprising additions to the area, such as, innovative balloons dropping into the area as survival mechanisms for the contenders from the sky. Will a fire come to draw the contenders closer together?  Will the water be drawn out of the lakes and streams? Even though I somehow sensed that in the end, Katniss and Peeta would be alright, the dangers they encounter along the way at the mercy of the corrupt Gamemakers held my attention throughout the novel.  The more corrupt and eerie this artificial world became, the more invested I was.  Perhaps this is because I don’t really need to fear entering a situation like this one.

As a reader from a different society, my thoughts from the beginning, involved the possible impact Peeta and Katniss might have on other citizens if they were able to alter the way the Games were played.  I think that readers are able to connect with the book, because they relate to the characters on a human level.  All people love and long for freedom.  In this way, I automatically assumed that the two of them would have the chance to alter the systemic oppression of the people of the Districts. This may have been naïve.  As much as I felt that I could have been in the same place as Katniss and that I might have been able to help others by refusing to allow the government to bring me down, by the end of the story, I saw, along with Katniss that altering years of tyranny is easier to imagine than actually doing it.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5

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Also in the trilogy: Catching Fire (2009) and Mockingjay (2010)

Film: The Hunger Games (2012)

Films eerily reminiscent of this book:

Battle Royale (2000)

The Truman Show (1998)