Written by Suzanne Collins
Most enjoyed by readers in 6th through 8th grade
Katniss Everdeen has been struggling to survive ever since her father was blown to pieces in a mine explosion. Food is scarce in District 12, but Katniss has been able to support her mother and younger sister Prim by hunting illegally and by putting her name in the bowl for the Hunger Games more than once. When Reaping Day arrives, Katniss will wait with other district residents to see whose names are drawn from the bowl. One boy and one girl from District 12 will join boys and girls from the other 11 districts in Panem to compete in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death for all but one winner. This year, Prim's name has been entered in the bowl once, but Katniss knows her name is entered at least 16 times, representing the times she has had to bargain her name away in return for bread and oil to live on. As Reaping Day arrives, Katniss watches in horror as Prim's name is drawn from the bowl. She volunteers to take her sister's place, knowing that she will save her sister's life by perhaps forfeiting hers. Peeta Mellark, the baker's son, is the boy chosen to represent District 12. Peeta once did Katniss a favor, leaving her in his debt, the memory of which lives on strongly in Katniss's mind. Together, Katniss and Peeta travel to the Capitol to begin the contest of their lives, as they fight for their survival in the Hunger Games. Only one of them can return the victor. Which will it be?
'The Hunger Games' is a book readers will have a hard time putting down (and I speak from experience!). I think it's one of the best books published in 2008 and a real contender for either the Newbery or Printz award. Katniss and Peeta are unforgettable characters participating in a terrible sport created to control people in the country of Panem. Issues of friendship, trust, loyalty, freedom, and governmental control make this book one perfect for discussion. The first in a trilogy, 'The Hunger Games' will leave you craving the next book in the series. Grab this one when you're looking for a book that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.