Synopses & Reviews
Now in paperback, the book no one can stop talking about . . .
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before - and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Collins delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.
"Signature Reviewed by Megan Whalen Turner If there really are only seven original plots in the world, it's odd that 'boy meets girl' is always mentioned, and 'society goes bad and attacks the good guy' never is. Yet we have Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, The House of the Scorpion and now, following a long tradition of Brave New Worlds, The Hunger Games. Collins hasn't tied her future to a specific date, or weighted it down with too much finger wagging. Rather less 1984 and rather more Death Race 2000, hers is a gripping story set in a postapocalyptic world where a replacement for the United States demands a tribute from each of its territories: two children to be used as gladiators in a televised fight to the death. Katniss, from what was once Appalachia, offers to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, but after this ultimate sacrifice, she is entirely focused on survival at any cost. It is her teammate, Peeta, who recognizes the importance of holding on to one's humanity in such inhuman circumstances. It's a credit to Collins's skill at characterization that Katniss, like a new Theseus, is cold, calculating and still likable. She has the attributes to be a winner, where Peeta has the grace to be a good loser. It's no accident that these games are presented as pop culture. Every generation projects its fear: runaway science, communism, overpopulation, nuclear wars and, now, reality TV. The State of Panem which needs to keep its tributaries subdued and its citizens complacent may have created the Games, but mindless television is the real danger, the means by which society pacifies its citizens and punishes those who fail to conform. Will its connection to reality TV, ubiquitous today, date the book? It might, but for now, it makes this the right book at the right time. What happens if we choose entertainment over humanity? In Collins's world, we'll be obsessed with grooming, we'll talk funny, and all our sentences will end with the same rise as questions. When Katniss is sent to stylists to be made more telegenic before she competes, she stands naked in front of them, strangely unembarrassed. 'They're so unlike people that I'm no more self-conscious than if a trio of oddly colored birds were pecking around my feet,' she thinks. In order not to hate these creatures who are sending her to her death, she imagines them as pets. It isn't just the contestants who risk the loss of their humanity. It is all who watch. Katniss struggles to win not only the Games but the inherent contest for audience approval. Because this is the first book in a series, not everything is resolved, and what is left unanswered is the central question. Has she sacrificed too much? We know what she has given up to survive, but not whether the price was too high. Readers will wait eagerly to learn more. Megan Whalen Turner is the author of the Newbery Honor book The Thief and its sequels, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] violent, jarring speed-rap of a novel that generates nearly constant suspense....Collins is an efficient no-nonsense prose stylist with a pleasantly dry sense of humor. (Grade: B)" Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
"[A] grand-opening salvo....Populated by three-dimensional characters, this is a superb tale of physical adventure, political suspense, and romance." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Impressive world-building, breathtaking action and clear philosophical concerns make this volume, the beginning of a planned trilogy, as good as The Giver and more exciting." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] thrilling adventure that will appeal to science fiction, survival, and adventure readers. The suspense of this powerful novel will keep the reader glued to the page long after bedtime." VOYA
"Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing." School Library Journal
"As a bibliophile who is fondly interested in young adult literature, I found The Hunger Games
to be one of the best books I've read, regardless of its difficult content. As an extremely thought-provoking piece of literature, I hope this book will be added to English curriculums across the country, sparking conversations about subjects such as war, poverty, and death. Collins raises the intellectual bar, while empowering young adults with tools to instigate their own opinions and ideas." Sarah Miller, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.
The acclaimed author of the New York Times-bestselling Underland Chronicles series delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in a stunning novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to the present.
Now in paperback, the book no one can stop talking about . . .
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead (cont'd)
A New York Times
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.
Science-fiction superstar and multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner Nancy Kress comes to YA in this brain-twisting thriller
How far would you go?
The Collapse has ransacked the economy, making work almost impossible to find and forcing Amy from college hopeful to sole provider for her terminally-ill grandmother and rebellious younger sister. To make ends meet, Amy auditions for a slot on a new reality TV show, which promises both a hefty salary and full medical benefits for her entire family. Somehow, she gets chosen, and she leaps to sign a contract despite her misgivings.
The show in which shell take part has an irresistible premise: audience members can win millions by predicting the behavior of each member of the cast in a crisis. But the producers are willing to do anything to maintain ratings, including using blatant setups, 24/7 surveillance, and even state-of-the-art holographic technology to simulate danger. But soon, the danger becomes all too real, and Amyon and off the cameramust fight for her life
Conclusion to the New York Times Bestselling Matched Trilogy!
Cassias journey began with an error, a momentary glitch in the otherwise perfect façade of the Society. After crossing canyons to break free, she waits, silk and paper smuggled against her skin, ready for the final chapter.
The wait is over.
One young woman has raged against those who threaten to keep away what matters mostfamily, love, choice. Her quiet revolution is about to explode into full-scale rebellion. With exquisite prose, the emotionally gripping conclusion to the internationalbestselling Matched trilogy returns Cassia, Ky, and Xander to the Society to save the one thing they have been denied for so long, the power to choose.
In Lois Lowrys Newbery Medal-winning classic, twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind his fragile community.
The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.
About the Author
Suzanne Collins's debut novel, Gregor the Overlander, the first book in the Underland Chronicles, received wide praise both in the United States and abroad. The series has been a New York Times bestseller and received numerous accolades. Also a writer for children's television, Suzanne lives with her family in Connecticut.
Q: You have said from the start that the Hunger Games story was intended as a trilogy. Did it actually end the way you planned it from the beginning?
A: Very much so. While I didn't know every detail, of course, the arc of the story from gladiator game, to revolution, to war, to the eventual outcome remained constant throughout the writing process.
Q: We understand you worked on the initial screenplay for a film to be based on The Hunger Games. What is the biggest difference between writing a novel and writing a screenplay?
A: There were several significant differences. Time, for starters. When you're adapting a novel into a two-hour movie you can't take everything with you. The story has to be condensed to fit the new form. Then there's the question of how best to take a book told in the first person and present tense and transform it into a satisfying dramatic experience. In the novel, you never leave Katniss for a second and are privy to all of her thoughts so you need a way to dramatize her inner world and to make it possible for other characters to exist outside of her company. Finally, there's the challenge of how to present the violence while still maintaining a PG-13 rating so that your core audience can view it. A lot of things are acceptable on a page that wouldn't be on a screen. But how certain moments are depicted will ultimately be in the director's hands.
Q: Are you able to consider future projects while working on The Hunger Games, or are you immersed in the world you are currently creating so fully that it is too difficult to think about new ideas?
A: I have a few seeds of ideas floating around in my head but — given that much of my focus is still on The Hunger Games — it will probably be awhile before one fully emerges and I can begin to develop it.
Q: The Hunger Games is an annual televised event in which one boy and one girl from each of the 12 districts is forced to participate in a fight-to-the-death on live TV. What do you think the appeal of reality television is — to both kids and adults?
A: Well, they're often set up as games and, like sporting events, there's an interest in seeing who wins. The contestants are usually unknown, which makes them relatable. Sometimes they have very talented people performing.
Then there's the voyeuristic thrill — watching people being humiliated, or brought to tears, or suffering physically — which I find very disturbing. There's also the potential for desensitizing the audience, so that when they see real tragedy playing out on, say, the news, it doesn't have the impact it should.
Q: If you were forced to compete in the Hunger Games, what do you think your special skill would be?
A: Hiding. I'd be scaling those trees like Katniss and Rue. Since I was trained in sword-fighting, I guess my best hope would be to get hold of a rapier if there was one available. But the truth is I'd probably get about a four in Training.
Q: You weave action, adventure, mythology, sci-fi, romance, and philosophy throughout The Hunger Games. What influenced the creation of The Hunger Games?
A: A significant influence would have to be the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. The myth tells how in punishment for past deeds, Athens periodically had to send seven youths and seven maidens to Crete, where they were thrown in the Labyrinth and devoured by the monstrous Minotaur.
Even as a kid, I could appreciate how ruthless this was. Crete was sending a very clear message: "Mess with us and we'll do something worse than kill you. We'll kill your children." And the thing is, it was allowed; the parents sat by powerless to stop it. Theseus, who was the son of the king, volunteered to go. I guess in her own way, Katniss is a futuristic Theseus.
In keeping with the classical roots, I send my tributes into an updated version of the Roman gladiator games, which entails a ruthless government forcing people to fight to the death as popular entertainment. The world of Panem, particularly the Capitol, is loaded with Roman references. Panem itself comes from the expression "Panem et Circenses" which translates into "Bread and Circuses."
The audiences for both the Roman games and reality TV are almost characters in themselves. They can respond with great enthusiasm or play a role in your elimination.
I was channel surfing between reality TV programming and actual war coverage when Katniss's story came to me. One night I'm sitting there flipping around and on one channel there's a group of young people competing for, I don't know, money maybe? And on the next, there's a group of young people fighting an actual war. And I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way, and I thought of this story.
Q: The trilogy's premise is very brutal, yet is handled so tastefully. Was this a difficult balance to achieve?
A: Yes, the death scenes are always hard to write. It's difficult to put kids in violent situations — Gregor (the protagonist in The Underland Chronicles) is in a war, Katniss is in a gladiator game. Characters will die. It's not fun to write, but I think if you can't commit to really doing the idea, it's probably better to work on another type of story.
Given that, you have to remember who you're trying to reach with the book. I try and think of how I would tell a particularly difficult event to my own children. Exactly what details they need to know to really understand it, and what would be gratuitous.
Q: The Hunger Games tackles issues like severe poverty, starvation, oppression, and the effects of war among others. What drew you to such serious subject matter?
A: That was probably my dad's influence. He was career Air Force, a military specialist, a historian, and a doctor of political science. When I was a kid, he was gone for a year in Viet Nam. It was very important to him that we understood about certain aspects of life. So, it wasn't enough to visit a battlefield, we needed to know why the battle occurred, how it played out, and the consequences. Fortunately, he had a gift for presenting history as a fascinating story. He also seemed to have a good sense of exactly how much a child could handle, which is quite a bit.
Q: What do you hope readers will come away with when they read The Hunger Games?
A: Questions about how elements of the book might be relevant in their own lives. And, if they're disturbing, what they might do about them.
Q: In The Hunger Games, Katniss and Gale have an extensive knowledge of hunting, foraging, wildlife, and survival techniques. What kinds of research did you do, if any?
A: Some things I knew from listening to my dad talking about his childhood. He grew up during the Depression. For his family, hunting was not a sport but a way to put meat on the table. He also knew a certain amount about edible plants. He'd go into the woods and gather all these wild mushrooms and bring them home and sauté them. My mom wouldn't let any of us go near them! But he'd eat them up and they never harmed him, so I guess he knew which ones were safe, because wild mushrooms can be very deadly.
I also read a big stack of wilderness survival guidebooks. And here's what I learned: you've got to be really good to survive out there for more than a few days.
Q: How long would it take for North America to deteriorate into the world depicted in the books?
A: You'd have to allow for the collapse of civilization as we know it, the emergence of Panem, a rebellion, and 74 years of the Hunger Games. We're talking triple digits.
Q: You have written for television for young children and for middle-grade readers (the New York Times bestselling series The Underland Chronicles). Why did you decide to write for an older audience and how was the experience different?
A: I think the nature of the story dictated the age of the audience from the beginning. Both The Underland Chronicles and The Hunger Games have a lot of violence. But in The Underland Chronicles, even though human characters die, a lot of the conflict takes place between different fantastical species. Giant rats and bats and things. You can skew a little younger that way. Whereas in The Hunger Games, there's no fantasy element, it's futuristic sci-fi and the violence is not only human on human, it's kid on kid. And I think that automatically moves you into an older age range.
I find there isn't a great deal of difference technically in how you approach a story, no matter what age it's for. I started out as a playwright for adult audiences. When television work came along, it was primarily for children. But whatever age you're writing for, the same rules of plot, character, and theme apply. You just set up a world and try to remain true to it. If it's filled with cuddly animated animals, chances are no one's going to die. If it's filled with giant flesh-and-blood rats with a grudge, there's going to be violence.
Q: What was it like to return to the world of the Hunger Games to write Catching Fire and then Mockingjay?
A: Honestly, I feel like I never left it. The revisions of Book One overlapped with the writing of Book Two, just as Book Two has overlapped with Book Three. Since each book feeds into the next, I feel like part of my brain's been in Panem continuously.
Q: Do you have every book completely mapped out, or do you have a general idea and then take it from there? Did you run into things that were unexpected plot-wise or character-wise?
A: I've learned it helps me to work out the key structural points before I begin a story. The inciting incident, acts, breaks, mid-story reversal, crisis, climax, those sorts of things. I'll know a lot of what fills the spaces between them as well, but I leave some uncharted room for the characters to develop. And if a door opens along the way, and I'm intrigued by where it leads, I'll definitely go through it.
Q: How do you typically spend your workday? Do you have a routine as you write?
A: I grab some cereal and sit down to work as soon as possible. The more distractions I have to deal with before I actually begin writing, the harder focusing on the story becomes. Then I work until I'm tapped out, usually sometime in the early afternoon. If I actually write three to five hours, that's a productive day. Some days all I do is stare at the wall. That can be productive, too, if you're working out character and plot problems. The rest of the time, I walk around with the story slipping in and out of my thoughts.
Q: You are probably getting a lot of fan mail! What is the most surprising feedback you've received for The Hunger Games? (Or, what has surprised you the most about the feedback you're getting for The Hunger Games?)
A: Probably how differently people view the book. Some are attracted to the dystopian world, others are there for action and adventure, still others for the romance. The readers are defining the book in very personal and exciting ways.
Q: What were some of your favorite novels when you were a teen?
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Boris by Jaapter Haar
Germinal by Emile Zola
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury