Review: The Hunger Games

I’ve mentioned before that I like to read what my 11-year old Alejandro is reading and last summer, I noticed several of his friends were reading The Hunger Games. Alejandro tore through the three books in the series in a matter of days. And when I finally had a chance, I read the first two in four days.

They are that good.

The story takes place in a near-future in a not-so-recognizable America where each of the 12 districts must send a boy and a girl to The Capital to fight to the death in the gruesome Hunger Games. The winner brings prestige to his or her district, as well as food, something that is lacking nearly everywhere.

Written from the main character’s point of view, you can’t help but feel (and fall for) 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen. Katniss volunteers to take the place of her younger sister, Prim, in the games. Katniss comes from District 12, a coal-mining district, which I would suspect is near our West Virginia or so. Katniss has a couple of secrets, the main one is that she hunts illegally outside her District’s boundaries and has mad archery skills.

The book is a reality-show on steroids. You speed through the Katniss life in District 12, awe at her volunteering for her sister (and putting her life at risk), feel her uncertainties when dealing with the tributes from the other Districts, and finally get to experience the rollercoaster of suspense during the games.

Fanfic Video of a key scene in the book.

I’m not going to spoil it for you but will say the books are worth it. You will be sucked in and you will feel for Katniss, the tributes, and the situation that they are thrown into.

As I read the book and was faced with the brutality of the games, I kept asking myself, “Is this book appropriate for 10 to 12 year olds?” I felt that the level of brutality was too much, kept wondering how exposing children to a book like this would sit with them. Yet, I remember listening to Alejandro talk to one of his best friend’s about the book and it was one of most literate, intense conversations I’d ever heard him and this particular friend have.

The Hunger Games provides kids insight into a type of entertainment reality TV is only a few steps away from, it shows them a political system that takes advantage of individuals and Districts. If your kid is squeamish or easily disturbed, I wouldn’t recommend it.