The Hunger Games Review
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Now that the Harry Potter franchise—with its books and corresponding movies—has officially come to an end (apart from the massive theme park attractions, that is), young readers (and movie lovers, too) have been searching high and low for a worthy replacement. And they might just find it in The Hunger Games, the not-as-mystical but just-as-thrilling first book in the young adult series by author Suzanne Collins.

The Hunger Games takes place in a land called Panem—a place that was once known as North America. The country is divided into twelve districts, each of which is responsible for one industry. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives in District Twelve, a poor mountain district known for its coal mining. Since her father’s death, she’s been responsible for caring for her mother and younger sister, Prim—which she does by illegally hunting in the forest outside her district with her best friend, Gale.

Each year, the twelve districts of Panem are required to choose one boy and one girl to compete in The Hunger Games—a televised event that pits the 24 selected children against each other in a battle to the death. In poor districts like the twelfth, it’s seen as a death sentence—but when Prim’s name is called, Katniss has no choice but to volunteer to fight in her place.

The Hunger Games is both a classic story and a modern one. At its heart, it’s an age-old story about a world-weary underdog battling the odds to survive. With its familiar characters and dramatic circumstances, it may even remind you of your school days—and some of your favorite required reading.

At the same time, though, it also has an updated twist, with futuristic touches and a story that seems all too fitting in a time when reality TV tops the ratings charts—when people gather around their televisions each night for a chance to watch the most personal, most challenging moments of other people’s lives. Just like the contestants on your favorite reality TV show, Katniss and her competitors must learn to play for the cameras—to keep their audience entertained and inspired in order to stay alive.

Though it takes a while for the real action to begin, the setup will easily hold even young readers’ interest. And once Katniss and the others enter the arena, there’s so much adventure and suspense that you’ll have a hard time setting the book aside. Despite her rough edges, you’ll fall in love with Katniss—for whom survival has become a way of life. You’ll be fascinated by the setting—from the pageantry of the Capitol to the arena, where the climate and surroundings depend on the whims of the Gamemakers. And you’ll be held rapt by the danger, the drama, and the strategy of the days and weeks of the games.

It may not be filled with wizards and spells and flying brooms, but The Hunger Games has its own kind of magic. It’s a thrilling adventure that will have readers of all ages racing to pick up the second book in the series—and eagerly awaiting the upcoming film adaptation.

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