The Hunger Games
In the future, the country of Panem is divided into 13 districts. Well, really it’s 12 because District 13 is a pile of ruins and smoking damage. Each district has its own job, such as agriculture, textiles and more. They all work for the Capitol and if they aren’t up to the mark, then it means bad things for all of them. The only source of ‘entertainment’ is the Hunger Games, the brutal showdown where 24 kids between the ages of 12 and 18 (2 kids from each district) must fight and kill each other to be the last person standing in an arena. This arena can have a landscape that can be anything from the freezing Antartic to a swelteringly hot desert. Along with this already-terrifying situation, Gamemakers (people who create and control the games) can add on any cruel twists they deem fit, and these twists aren’t sweet at all. Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12, whose job is to mine for coal. She lives with her mother and her beloved little sister, Prim. Her father died in a coal-mining accident, and she’s learned how to be an amazing hunter to help feed her family and keep them alive. When the day of The Reaping comes (the day when tributes are chosen for the Games), the last thing Katniss expects is for her sister’s name to be chosen. But when it does, Katniss makes a choice to compete in the Games in place of her sister. The moment Katniss leaves her District, her life completely changes as she focuses on training herself to win the Games and stay alive. Will Katniss be able to save herself and come out as a victor? Or will she succumb to the terrors of the Games? Find out by reading the book!
This book contains some content that isn’t appropriate for smaller kids. Firstly, there is a LOT of violence, and it is gory and bloody. Smaller kids shouldn’t be exposed to this level of violence yet, as it can scare them. The reason the games happen is that the Capitol (the overall controller of everything in Panem) wants to show the rest of the districts that they can’t ever overpower them and this cruel way of exerting power can also possibly scare kids. There is a lot of poverty in the main book, and the main character is also not rich at all. The levels of poverty may be something that kids haven’t been exposed to, and exposing them to poverty in such an extreme way may not be the right thing to do. Katniss is very angry at her mother for some reason (not going to spoil!), and younger children may not have been exposed to the idea that children can be angry at their parents in such an extreme way. It might teach them that they can do that as well, which is not the right lesson at all. Teenagers would have developed a level of mature thinking that allows them to take the topics in this book well, and they will be able to understand them and connect them to the story.
There are some good messages in this book. Readers can see the importance of sibling love (through Katniss’s love and sacrifice for her sister), determination (through Katniss’s determination to win the Games), the value of normal-day items (learned when Katniss is in the arena and she is deprived of things like food and water), adaptation (learned through the way Katniss adapts her life after the death of her father and how she adapts in the arena), and many more.
Even though a rating of 9 may seem extreme, it is true. While the sole focus of the book may not be violence, there is still a lot. Firstly, the whole book is centered around an event that forces people to kill each other. The tributes learn how to use many different kinds of weapons. Katniss is an expert hunter, and she kills many animals in order to survive. She uses a bow and arrow. It is mentioned that Katniss’s father dies in a mining accident. On the way to the Games, the tributes are served by people who have had their tongues cut out. In the arena, contestants fight each other, stab each other with knives, shoot (with a bow and arrow, in Katniss’s case), and suffer from many injuries. The Gamemakers put random twists in the game, and one of them is a wall of fire. Katniss gets badly burned because of a fireball that hits her leg. Peeta, Katniss’s fellow tribute, gets blood poisoning. There is one instance where Katniss drops a beehive on top of her competitors in order to survive and the bees furiously sting everyone nearby, including Katniss. Towards the end of the book, all of the dead tributes come back as ferocious creatures, and one of the remaining tributes is pretty much tortured by those creatures as they take small bites out of him, giving him a painful death. The author describes the injuries the competitors have in a lot of detail. At the end of the Games, Katniss and Peeta both try to suicide so that they don’t have to kill each other.
There is no bad language used in this book.
The main romance in this book revolves around Katniss and Peeta. There is a lot of kissing. Katniss also thinks about a possible relationship with one of her friends, Gale. However, there is also mention that their romance is fake and is just so that they can survive more easily in the Games. Katniss and Peeta are to really play up the whole ‘in-love’ idea, and the author includes multiple instances of where they do that.
Haymitch, one of the characters in the book, drinks a lot of alcohol.
This book is a classic favorite of mine. I can read this book however many times and not get bored of it. The overall idea of the book is really good, and it’s bound to make anyone addicted. There were plenty of twists that I wasn’t expecting, but they all contributed to making the book better. Overall, I just really loved this book, and it is a must-read for any teenager!