Teen Book Reviews

Northeast Library

Teen Book Reviews

If you haven’t heard your friends talking about The Hunger Games or Catching Fire in the past two years, you’ve been missing out on a fantastic story that will soon be made into a great movie.  Learn about the book that started it all below.

In the far future, North America has been renamed Panem and divided up into 12 districts, lorded over by a ruthless and sadistic Capitol. There once were 13 districts, but when all the districts rebelled against the Capitol’s oppression, District 13 was destroyed as an example.

Many people in Panem would say that District 13 got off lucky, since they don’t have to watch their children die. Each year, the remaining 12 districts have to send two teenagers, one boy and one girl, to the Capitol to compete in a ruthless contest called the Hunger Games. The arena is rigged with deathtraps, and it’s mandatory for everyone in Panem to watch the televised broadcasts of the fight.

Into this cauldron steps Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to take her sister’s place after she is picked for the Hunger Games contest. Her fellow tribute is Peeta, a boy who once saved her from starving, and whom she knows she cannot kill, even if that’s the only way she can survive. Katniss might have the skills she needs to survive, but does she have the will to win in a game where everyone and everything around her is out to get her?    

This book is an excellent coming-of-age story filled with action and intrigue. The book starts off with  a bang, and continues with the danger Katniss faces right up until the last sentence. 

Katniss is an intriguing narrator who knows how to survive, both physically, in a way that will attract readers of Gary Paulsen books, and mentally, as she strives to overcome manipulation by the Gamemakers and people of the Capitol.  One of the themes in this story is defiance against those in power, and Katniss goes from numbly accepting what the Capitol does to her to questioning and finally defying the Capitol as much as she can. 

However, there is little doubt that Katniss pays for her defiance in future novels, and readers see how she survives and finds a way to fight back in the other books of this series. With something to appeal to everyone, The Hunger Games is definitely a great start to a fantastic trilogy.

Hunger Games and its sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay (due out in September 2010), are recommended for late tween to mid-teen readers.  Check them out now at Northeast Neighborhood Library and other branches of the DC Public Library system today.