The World of the Hunger Games TrilogyWhile the creation of Panem is not fully fleshed out until the second book, we know that this authoritarian society was the result of a horrible disaster during the Dark Days, resulting in the establishment of twelve districts under the rule of the government in the Capitol. Peacekeepers and a local government are instituted in each district, but the rulers in the Capitol have strict control over everything and everyone in each district.
Each district has its own specialty that benefits the Capitol, such as coal mining, agriculture, seafood, etc. Some districts provide the Capitol with energy or material goods and some provide the manpower to keep those in the Capitol in power. The people who live in the Capitol contribute little to their own sustenance and are concerned mainly with the latest fashions and amusements.
The Hunger Games are an annual tradition directed by the Capitol rulers, not only to amuse the citizens, but also to preserve control over the districts by demonstrating the Capitol's dominance. Each year, the twelve districts must send two representatives, a girl and a boy, to participate in the Hunger Games. These representatives are called “tributes” to make people believe that representing their district is an honor, even though each person lives in fear that someone they love will be chosen. And the entire nation must watch as these 24 tributes battle each other to the death until only one is left as the victor. Having a victor is important to a district.
The Hunger Games - The StorySixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen has been providing for her family since her father’s death in a mining accident. She has done this by illegally hunting beyond the boundaries of District 12 and using the game she kills for food or for barter. Through her skill with a bow and her ability to track and snare rabbits and squirrels, her family has been able to survive.
They have also survived because Katniss signs up for the tessera, a ration of grain that is given in exchange for placing your name in the lottery for the reaping, the ceremony that determines who will be the district’s representative in the Games. Everyone’s name goes in the lottery from the time they reach the age of 12 until they turn 18. Each time Katniss exchanges her name for the tessera, her chances of being the one whose name is called increase. Only it isn’t her name that is called. It is her sister’s.
Prim Everdeen is the one person that Katniss loves above all others. She is only 12, quiet, loving and on her way to being a healer. She would not be able to survive the reaping and Katniss knows this. When Prim’s name is called, Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place as a tribute from District 12 to the Hunger Games.
Katniss knows that it is not only her own life on the line in the games, but that others will benefit as well if she is the victor and her skills as a hunter will give her an edge in the Games. But her life as a tribute becomes more complicated by the other tribute from District 12. Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son, is a boy that Katniss owes a favor to because of a kindness that he showed her when she was most desperate and her family’s survival was at stake. And Katniss knows that now her survival will mean his death.
Katniss is whisked away from her family and Gale, her best friend and hunting partner, to the Capitol, where she is prepped and primped to participate in the Games. She and Peeta are to be mentored by Haymitch, the only tribute that District 12 has had who was a winner in the Games. But Haymitch is a reluctant and seemingly inadequate mentor, so Katniss realizes she must rely on her own strengths in order to survive.
As the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy, The Hunger Games is compelling reading and makes the reader want to read the next book immediately to find out what has happened to Katniss and Peeta. Katniss is a strong character who solves her own problems and takes charge of her own life. Her struggles with her divided affections between two boys are realistically portrayed but not overwrought. And her tendency to inadvertently create problems can spark many conversations about whether she was right or wrong and whether she stayed true to who she is. Katniss is someone that readers will not forget.