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?