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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Top Teen Titles #7

#7 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Scholastic, 2008. ISBN: 9780439023481, 374  pp.

Publisher’s Description: In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capital surrounded by twelve outlying districts.  The Capital is harsh and cruel and keeps the other districts in line by forcing them to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight-to-the death on live TV. One boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and sixteen are selected by lottery to play.  The winner brings riches and favor to his or her district.  But that is nothing compared to what the Capital wins: one more year of fearful compliance with its rules.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister,  regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her impoverished district in the Games.  But Katniss has been close to dead before – and survival, for her, is second nature.  Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender.  But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Quotes from Readers:

Excitement, danger and a girl who kicks butt. Wins on all accounts.

A great fantasy adventure that is sure to keep the reader’s interest from start to finish!

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari,  TeensReadToo.

Awards: A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (2008); Amelia Bloomer List (2009); ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2009); Locus Recommended Reading (Young Adult, 2008); Cybils Award (Fantasy and Science Fiction – Young Adult, 2008); ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2009); School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2008); ALA Notable Children’s Book (2009); Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award (Young Adult Novel, 2008); Rhode Island Teen Book (2010); Utah Young Adults’ Book Award 2010 (Beehive); South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominee (2010-2011); South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee (2010-2011); Red House Children’s Book Award (Overall & Older Readers, 2010); NPR Top 100 Killer Thrillers (61); Locus Nominee (Young Adult, 2009, 9); South Carolina Junior Book Award Winner (2010-2011); South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Winner (2010-2011); Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award Nominee (2011); Abraham Lincoln Award Winner (2011)

Diane’s note: I remember reading The Hunger Games and feeling like I’d been playing with a bunch of mismatched puzzle pieces until Suzanne Collins stopped by to help me put them together. Much of Hunger Games feels like old movies and new reality shows intertwined. Suzanne Collins was able to bring the pieces of child combatants, Theseus mythology, fractured American culture, and a desperate future together into an engaging story that I couldn’t put down.

From the Scholastic guide: “It’s hard to choose one element that inspired The Hunger Games,” says Suzanne Collins. “Probably the first seeds were planted when, as an eight-year-old with a mythology obsession, I read the story of Theseus. The myth told how in punishment for past deeds, Athens periodically had to send seven youths and seven maidens to Crete where they were thrown in the Labyrinth and devoured by the monstrous Minotaur. Even as a third grader, I could appreciate the ruthlessness of this message. ‘Mess with us and we’ll do something worse than kill you. We’ll kill your children.’

“Other early influences would have to include watching too many gladiator movies, which dramatized the Romans’ flair for turning executions into popular entertainment; my military specialist dad who took us to battlefields for family vacations; and touring with a sword fighting company in high school. But it wasn’t until the much more recent experience of channel surfing between reality TV programming and actual war coverage that the story for this series came to me.”

Joni Richards Bodart wrote a booktalk which helps create excitement for reading.