Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is like Survivor on steroids. In a futuristic land called Panem, one boy and one girl are selected by drawing to represent their district in a competition called Hunger Games. The lone survivor is the winner and returns home to live comfortably for the rest of their life. Katniss lives with her widowed mother and younger sister in the 12th district where the main occupation is coal mining. Since her father was killed in the mines, she has learned to sneak outside the electrified fence to supplement her family's food with animals she hunts with a bow and arrow. When her sister is chosen for the games, she volunteers to go in her place and is paired with Peeta, the son of the town's baker.
Comparisons to the TV reality shows that seem to have taken over television these days is easy. Competitors are mentored by previous winners from their district and they are fed, dressed, and prepped for the program. They receive a locator which is injected in their arm and are presented to the county in televised interviews. Cameras cover their every move.
The action is riveting. Some of the kids have been training for this competition since they were very young so they are larger, stronger, and more skilled with weapons than our heroes. Some of the competitors are even smaller and weaker than Katniss but all of them have a talent that helps them survive for a time. The biggest enemy of all of them is the Capitol, host of the games, who is not adverse to using tricky tactics to make the game more interesting for the viewing audience.
I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good action book with a little science fiction thrown in. Kids killing each other may be disturbing but happily enough, there are rules against cannibalism so we are spared there. ;-}
My rating for this book: ++++