Collins, S. (2008). The hunger games . New York: Scholastic Press.
I think it is easy to see why The Hunger Games has gained such popularity. The story revolves around Katniss Everdeen who, along with Peeta Mellark, has been chosen to represent their district in the annual Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a battle to the death sponsored by the capital to keep the districts in line. It is also designed as a constant reminder of and punishment for an uprising that occurred many years prior. In the games, Katniss and Peeta rely on each other for survival and are able to both survive by defying the capital.
I was hooked on the book from the very beginning. I liked Katniss from the moment when she volunteered to enter the hunger games in the place of her little sister, Prim. She is a well-developed heroine that definitely has appeal to a young reader. My only criticism is that sometimes it seemed that Katniss is completely clueless. She ultimately makes all the right moves while misunderstanding a lot of what is going on around her. Her blindness to Peeta's feelings about her through training and the beginning of the hunger games, sometimes frustrated me. However, she is a realistic, likeable character. Alternately, I never felt the same connection with Gale. While he is an important character to the book, and Katniss's best friend, I didn't feel like he was as supportive of Katniss at times as he should have been. Peeta is a likeable character from the beginning. While he seems to be naive at times, it is actually interesting to see how perceptive he really is. He is truly good and honest, but Katniss sees deception in everything he does. She can't accept him at face value because she expects him to be like her. She is a survivor at heart and has promised Prim that she will do everything possible to return home. Because of her survival instincts, she tries to close herself off from those around her. She refuses to trust anyone. When she is thinking about her actions, she doesn't appear to be a likeable person to those who are viewing the games, but when she reacts emotionally, the audience is able to see the true Katniss. In the games, she befriends a girl named Rue. When Rue is killed, Katniss covers her in flowers and sings to her. When she does this for Rue, she shows her true emotions. Haymitch is a complex character with many hidden layers. While he first appears to be just a drunk who will be useless in helping Katniss and Peeta, he later proves to be extemely intelligent, manipulative, and cunning. I have to say that I like Haymitch and I think that he does have Katniss and Peeta's best interest at heart, but he has his own demons to fight too.
Overall, I loved this book and I think most students would enjoy it too. I also enjoyed all the parrallels in the story to ancient Rome and the days of the gladiators. I am looking forward to the movie.