The film “The Hunger Games” opens Friday in theaters around the nation. For those who haven’t read the story, here is a good book review that was first posted on the blog on Oct. 6, 2010.

A Review by Shirah Madsen McDonald

The Hunger Games

Copyright 2008

By Suzanne Collins

What is it about a post-apocalyptic story that rings true when making comparisons to our society today? Perhaps it is the gross taxation of our natural resources, the weather pattern disasters recurring worldwide, or perhaps the tales of genocide leaking out of the darker regions of Africa. At any rate, Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” preys upon the fear of the human race to do exactly the wrong thing when faced with survival: to enslave people body and soul.

Sort of a cross between Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game,” “The Hunger Games” is the story of thirteen colonies (full irony intended here) who serve The Capitol, the headquarters of the ruling state. The story takes place in the U.S. with the Capitol located in the Rocky Mountains. Each colony manufactures something The Capitol needs. The story centers on District 12, where we meet Katniss Everdeen, daughter of a coal-miner. The people in District 12 are always close to starvation. They are not allowed to hunt or do anything for profit. They are paid in food, similar to Ireland’s historical dole, but it is not enough to sustain them. Each year the districts have to prove their loyalty to the Capitol by sending two of their children, one male and one female between the ages of 12 and 18, to the annual Hunger Games, a competition in which the twenty-four “tributes” fight to the death. A nationally publicized event, the Games televise the contestants’ every move while their families at home watch in horror. Katniss Everdeen is the story’s heroine, first volunteering to take her younger sister’s place and then inspiring the colonies’ rebellion unwittingly by the allegiances she makes and by her uncompromising integrity. She becomes the symbol of the revolution, which triggers a full-scale human rights war in the next two books in the trilogy.

Reading the book turned my stomach in knots. It went with me everywhere and invaded my sleep. From her blatant disregard for the wealth of the Capitol to her prowess with a bow and arrow, Katniss got under my skin. I can’t imagine a worse society than one forced to sacrifice its children. The thought still chills me.


Thanks Shirah. “The Hunger Games” (2008) is the first in a trilogy that includes “Catching Fire” (2009) and the recently released “Mockingjay.”

Shirah is a journalism student at Santa Rosa Junior College, a mother of three and a woman who teaches piano and tries to “keep up with the voracious reading habits of her pre-teen.”