Reading Roundup

What’s on my mp3 player? The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.

Well, I broke an important commitment for this book, but I’m not sorry in the least. For a couple of months now, the only things on my mp3 player have been Spanish language-oriented as I seriously and joyfully attempt to learn the language. I’ve been wanting to read The Hunger Games but have not been able to get the book, so when I discovered it on ListenAlaska, I downloaded it. As much as I enjoy the Spanish stuff, I’ve missed audio books.

I was hooked immediately, moved to tears at least twice in the first two chapters, all the time thinking, “I want to write something this gripping!” And then I did some extra cleaning, took an extra walk, and stayed up extra late to have more time to listen.

The Hunger Games is one part Brave New World, one part The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, and one part reality TV. The story is set in Panem, which is what remains of North America after some unnamed disaster. The Capitol is a cruel totalitarian state that rules over the surrounding twelve impoverished districts where not starving to death is the top priority. There used to be thirteen districts, but when the districts rose up to challenge the Capitol, District 13 was obliterated.

As a reminder of what the Capitol did to District 13, and to keep the other Districts in line while simultaneously entertaining themselves, the Capitol holds the annual Hunger Games. Each District sends a boy and girl “tribute” between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Games. Tributes are chosen by lottery, and eligible teens get all dressed up so they look their best if they are chosen. To be a tribute is deemed an honor, or so it seems.

Tributes go to the Capitol where they are treated to feasts, made over by personal stylists, and trained for the games. A grand opening ceremony introducing the Hunger Games players is televised throughout Panem, as are the entire Games, and gamblers place bets on their favorites to win. To win means to live. The Hunger Games is a game to the death, the object being to kill the other players.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen has been taking care of her mother and younger sister, Prim, since her father died. She hunts and gathers daily to keep them all alive. When twelve-year-old Prim is selected as a tribute in the lottery for The Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place.

Just writing that makes my chest tighten. Yowzer, what a story!

The Hunger Games is the first book in a trilogy. Catching Fire came out last fall, I think, and Mockingjay, book three, will be out in August this year.

Your turn. What are you reading?

Categories: Reading

2 replies »

  1. I find it really interesting that this book has you so involved…to me it sounds too upsetting to even think about taking it on. The world disaster followed by a totalitarian government ties me up in knots. Put families in dire straits and I head in the other direction.

    Jen, it seems you and I have had role reversals going on.

    Jessica says hi.

  2. Well, you don’t see the world disaster at all, and the totalitarian government is more of a underlying element that reveals itself slowly. What you see are the characters living their lives, wonderful relationships in harsh and shocking circumstances.

    As someone who can’t tolerate scary or suspenseful stories, I can see where it would seem strange that I like this one so much. Dystopian novels wouldn’t seem to be my thing, but I liked Brave New World and Feed, too.

    You’d also think my distaste for uber-drama would prevent me from liking such an outrageous setup, but that’s not the case. It would be good for me to try to verbalize why I think that is. I can’t say off the top of my head.

    However, if my description doesn’t grab you, please click the book title at the top of the post. It’s linked to another review at See if that one makes the book more enticing to you. I wonder if it’s my presentation that is turning you off.

    I would recommend this for Joshua, if he’s interested, and would be curious about what he thinks of it.