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Cincinnati Library

The Hunger Games

This year, our selection for both adult and teen readers is The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.

In a future America, the country's twelve districts are forced to send teenaged “tributes” to take part in televised games devised by the totalitarian government to crush any hope of resistance. The novel follows the harrowing adventures of Katniss, who volunteers to take her sister's place in the competition—a wilderness contest only one teen may survive.

This award-winning 2008 teen novel is both a gripping survival story and a thought-provoking critique of our society. Collins explores very contemporary themes of poverty, privation, political repression, media culture, and violence, as well as triumphant themes of self-sacrifice, human dignity, love, and compassion.

What would you do to survive or to save someone you love? What risks would you take for freedom? The Hunger Games will inspire readers from different generations to consider these unsettling questions.

audio (unabridged) versions of the book are available at the library. The Hunger Games is also the February selection in our Featured Book of the Month series.


“A compulsively readable blend of science fiction, survival story, unlikely romance, and social commentary”
The Horn Book (starred review)

“Impressive world-building, breathtaking action and clear philosophical concerns make this volume, the beginning of a planned trilogy, as good as The Giver and more exciting.”

“Themes of government control, ‘big brother,’ and personal independence are explored amidst a thrilling adventure that will appeal to science fiction, survival, and adventure readers. The suspense of this powerful novel will keep the reader glued to the page long after bedtime.”

The Hunger Games has been selected for many “best of 2008” and editor's choice lists, including the American Library Association, New York Times, Kirkus, Hornbook, Publishers' Weekly, Los Angeles Times, and Amazon


The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins…

Somewhere far away, I can hear the crowd murmuring unhappily as they always do when a twelve-year-old [her little sister, Prim] gets chosen because no one thinks this is fair. And then I see her, the blood drained from her face, hands clenched in fists at her sides, walking with stiff, small steps up toward the stage, passing me, and I see the back of her blouse has become untucked and hangs out over her skirt. It's this detail, the untucked blouse forming a ducktail, that brings me back to myself.

“Prim!” The strangled cry comes out of my throat, and my muscles begin to move again. “Prim!” I don't need to shove through the crowd. The other kids make way immediately allowing me a straight path to the stage. I reach her just as she is about to mount the steps. With one sweep of my arm, I push her behind me.

“I volunteer!” I gasp. “I volunteer as tribute!” (pp.18, 21-22)

Cover of The Hunger Games

Teenaged Katniss has kept her family from starving in grim, post apocalyptic America. Now she must survive the Hunger Games, to-the-death reality-TV ‘games’ by which the central government punishes rebellion.