Monday, July 18, 2011

The Hunger Games

Collins, S. (2008). The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book, not necessarily for the sometimes violent content, but for the suspenseful way the book was written. 

Exposition: Katniss, the main character is the primary caregiver to her younger sister, Prim, and her mother who has never recovered from the death of Katniss' father.  They live in a mining community and are extremely poor.  In reading, it is uncovered that the community they live in is really a "district" belonging to the "Capitol."  Each year, a boy and a girl from each district is selected to participate in the Hunger Games.

Conflict: Katniss is worried that she might get selected.  A ticket goes in for each year beginning at age 12, plus Katniss has extra tickets due to trading tickets for food for her family.  She wants to run away, but won't leave her younger sister, Prim.  Her friend, Gale, is also in a similar predicament and they are both hopeful that they won't be selected.
Rising Action: At the reaping, Prim's name is called for the girl.  Katniss is shocked, since Prim is just 12 and so only has one ticket with her name on it.  She volunteers to go in Prim's place.  Peeta, a neighbor who once gave her bread when she was starving, is the boy selected.  The "winner" of the games is the last one alive. The strategy that her advisor comes up with is to portray Katniss and Peeta as star-struck lovers.  As nice as Peeta is, Katniss knows that for her to survive and return to her family, she will have to kill him or hope someone else does. 
Climax: Katniss is a great hunter and is able to hide in trees, so she is successful in staying alive for quite awhile.  Each night, the Capitol shows who has died that day.  Then the Capitol changes the rules.  Two tributes can win, but they must be from the same district.  Katniss finds Peeta so that they can work together. He is injured and Katniss must do whatever it takes to help him get better.  The Capitol has cameras everywhere, and the Hunger Games are broadcast throughout all of the districts. 
Falling Action:  Katniss, Peeta and one other tribute, Cato, are the only ones left.  Katniss manages to cause Cato to fall into a pack of wolves and her and Peeta win.  Unfortunately, the Capitol changes the rules again, and they are told only one can win.
Resolution: Katniss and Peeta trick the Capitol in to thinking they will die together instead of killing one of them.  The Capitol stops the games and both are declared the winners.

Collins uses personification in the book when Katniss is given the Mockingjay pin to wear in the games.  You find out the mockingjay is an experiment gone wrong by the Capitol, and it is very fitting that Katniss would wear this pin, as her actions are counter to everything the Capitol stands for.  Throughout the book, Collins creates little clues to give you unexpected insight into the characters and what will happen.  Katniss leaves us guessing as to what she will do next, and Haymitch is a confusing character until you figure out that he really does care for Katniss.  This is a book that keeps you hooked and makes it hard to put it down!

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