I just finished reading the first book in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy. In this futuristic society, North America is now known as Panem and consists of a controlling government and 12 districts that each year, in punishment for their revolt 74 years ago, must choose a boy and girl to be sent to fight to the death; the last one alive is the winner. The children must fight for food, water, and supplies while their families and the rest of Panem watch in horror or delight.

The main character is Katniss Everdeen of district 12, a resilient teen who has helped her family survive by illegally hunting with a homemade bow and arrow. Katniss volunteers for the Hunger Games, taking her younger sister’s place, and is dismayed that the male tribute is Peeta, a fellow classmate who once saved Katniss and her family. Things get more complicated when he declares to the world his unrequited love for Katniss.

One of the most interesting things about Hunger Games is that the games are aired as a reality TV show. With reality TV hitting new lows every season (I’m sure in the ’90s The Swan, a show where women undergo plastic surgery to look more like society’s definition of beautiful and then compete against one another in a pageant only to be told, “nope, you’re still not good enough,” would seem more like something from a futuristic society than an actual TV show on Fox), the idea of a cruel government televising the murder of its children doesn’t give me as much pause as it once might have.

A refreshing aspect of the book is its heroine. I appreciate seeing a strong, independent female character, especially in a young-adult novel. Even in adult fiction there is a plethora of mindless female characters preoccupied with Gucci, guys, and going out. Katniss has sharp wits, courage, and a survival instinct that just may save her. With its social commentary, three-dimensional characters you will root for, and a plot that doesn’t slow down, Hunger Games is a must read.

Working late and don’t have time to read any new books? Let PSG take some of the load off!