Wednesday, February 24, 2010

42. The Hunger Games

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. ISBN: 978-0-375-83531-5. Knopf. First Edition, 2006.

Plot Summary
Katniss is a 16-year old girl growing up in the oppressed society of Panem. Panem is divided into 12 districts controlled by the lavish and luxurious rule of the Capital. There used to be 13 districts, but when district 13 tried to rebel against oppression, the capital bombed the district until nothing remained. As punishment to the people and as a reminder of their insubordination, the Capital televises an annual event known as the Hunger Games. Two children from each district are selected to participate in a televised event where they must kill each other until only one child remains. The winner is set for life, bringing wealth and security home to his or her family. When Katniss' sister Prim is chosen for the games, Katniss volunteers to take her place. From this moment on she is forced to use her skills as a hunter to fend for herself in the Hunger Games arena. In the arena, Katniss faces hardship, injury, tragedy, and perhaps a dash of love.

Critical Evaluation
Author Suzanne Collins weaves a tale of survival, government corruption, and media propaganda into a thrilling narrative that evokes the feeling of being the hunter and the hunted. The Hunger Games explores dismal themes about society and human nature when a group of twenty four children are forced to murder one another for the entertainment of the viewing public. This modern gladiator story forces the characters to find a way to be true to themselves, their families, and their districts. This survival tale has the power to get readers questioning their own government, media, and actions. Collins' characters must react and adapt quickly to the harshness of their situation and surroundings, and as individuals they must grow at a pace to match. The Hunger Games proves that no matter the hardship or oppression your actions and your thoughts are your own, and nobody, not even the government can take them away from you.

Reader's Annotation
Welcome to Panam, where the biggest televised event is a fight to the death between 24 of the nation's children.

Author Information

Author Suzanne Collins got her start working on the popular Nickelodeon television series Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Suzanne moved on from Nickelodeon to work for the WB and Scholastic. Her career as an author did not come to fruition until she became inspired by Alice in Wonderland and wrote her first novel Gregor the Overlander. Collins is currently working on the third installment in her Hunger Games trilogy titled Mocking Jay.

survival fiction

Curriculum Ties
government, survival

Book Talking Ideas
Discuss propaganda in the media.
Discuss gladiators.
How is our society today like society in The Hunger Games?

Reading Level/Interest Age
Grades 10+

Challenge Issues

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the book in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
The Hunger Games is a great commentary on how the government can control the people it oversees. It will help to open discussion amongst teenage readers about the power of government, survival, and maintaining your identity through oppression.

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