The Gist: Dystopian young adult fiction series set in what used to be the United States where annually each of the twelve districts (which are like city-states and where most of the citizens are impoverished) must send a male and female tribute to the lavish Capitol as punishment for a failed rebellion to participate in the Hunger Games, a competition to the death of all but one.
Story Summary: The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, is a pragmatic sixteen year old girl who volunteers to save her twelve year old sister Primrose–something that is unheard of in the poverty-stricken District 12. The stage is set very early on for something even bigger than Katniss surviving the Games: paranoia over being watched/heard is normal, the government is trying to keep their citizens weak (dangerous jobs, crappy pay, no hunting or gathering food off the land, no leaving the “safety” of the fenced in district to hunt or gather more food, etc.). Peeta Mellark is the male tribute from District 12 and with his nationally televised declaration of love for Katniss he innocently sets off a chain reaction that leads to Katniss defying the Capitol on mandatory-to-watch national television.
Story Review: Most of the book is spent in the Capitol with flashbacks to District 12 as needed. What’s interesting is how Collins is able to create a love triangle when one of the members, Gale, exists only in Katniss’s memories. The characters are so distinct that the protagonist and the antagonist can be boiled down to ideals: Peeta is hope and Katniss is survival.
I loved this book. I go back to read sections of it over and over because of how smart the language is (when all we know about the District 5 female tribute is the nickname Katniss gives her, Foxface, we already think she’s clever because the connotation we have of the word fox) and how well the language is used to tell a story that works well on a personal character level and on a universal ideal level.
Immersion Activity Ideas:
Cook GOOD food (Food is easily one of Katniss’s major focuses.)
Learn to hunt
Learn what edible plants grow in the wild in your community and start gathering
Participate in the Hunger Games movie hype (It feels like its everywhere, but that website is definitely my favorite thus far.)
Marvel at the things we take for granted (running hot and cold water for example)
Play a Hunger Games inspired paintball game (I’ve been working on creating something like that. Now all I need is the courage to ask my favorite paintball place here, Dosser Works, if there is a way we could play it.)
Visit the Coliseum