Suzanne Collins — The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay

I don’t read a lot of young adult fiction but The Hunger Games came highly recommended, and when I picked it up to try it out, I couldn’t put it down (seriously, I ended up reading until 3am). The story of Katniss Everdeen, a girl raised in District 12, under the rule of a capriciously cruel Capitol, is tapped to participate in the Hunger Games, in which 24 children from the 12 districts are forced to fight to the death every year as punishment for a rebellion that occurred 74 years ago. She and her District 12 male counterpart, Peeta, are thrown together in the arena as unlikely allies. In the grand tradition of dystopian fiction featuring young children trying to kill each other (definite influences of Lord of the Flies and Battle Royale), Collins nevertheless manages to create a believable and original world, which is gradually fleshed out throughout the trilogy as more awful sides of Katniss’ world are revealed. A strong antiwar novel, the violence throughout is graphic but deployed purposefully. It is a little hard to read in the third book especially because by that time, you are really emotionally invested in the characters (despite their ridiculousness–while you may want to shake them at times, you are reminded that these are drastic extenuating circumstances). While Katniss’ voice (and character) is extremely annoying at times, and the second book was a rather awkward retread of the first, I still kept reading solely because I wanted to see what was going to happen. Mockingjay gives this trilogy a satisfying ending, not a happy ending, but one that seems appropriate for all of the emotional cliffhangers and twists and turns that the reader is subjected to. This may be “young adult” fiction but there’s something for everyone to appreciate in these books as well.

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