Tasha Cotter: The Last Book I Loved, The Hunger Games


Have you ever finished a book and wanted to shove it into anyone and everyone else’s hands so they can read it too?

This is the state I’ve been in since completing The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  It’s easily one of the best books I’ve read all year; I’m only sorry I didn’t discover it sooner.  I’d never heard of Collins; but after finishing The Hunger Games I immediately went to my computer to figure out who she was and what else she’d written so that I could go out and get right immediately.

What’s the book like? I’d say it’s part Fahrenheit 451 and part Brave New World, maybe a dash of Vonnegut; but I’m getting ahead of myself. I should first tell you about the world Collins creates in The Hunger Games, which is actually the first book in a three-part series. This story takes place in some distant future; though Collins is careful to avoid particulars, which is just fine. Basically the United States and all of North America has been destroyed; what’s left is a post-apocalyptic state called Panem. In an effort to prevent an uprising, the capitol of Panem requires that a boy and girl from each of the twelve districts are sent to participate in the annual Hunger Games — a live televised event that only one participant can win.

And then there’s the brilliant and resourceful female protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. When her younger sister’s name is drawn Katniss volunteers to take her place; and the boy who accompanies Katniss to the Hunger Games, Peeta, is actually not a bad guy. I don’t want to spoil anything for you so I’ll stop there.

This book had me staying up late and ignoring my television set for days. What’s more, I felt like this book actually changed me after having read it. Isn’t that what great art is supposed to do? It wasn’t until recently that I noticed the book is also classified as Young Adult science fiction. This astonished me since I don’t think I’ve ever read science fiction — I was just never interested in the genre until now.

Lots of questions arose as I read this book. I thought about reality television in a way I never had previously.  And then there’s the whole issue of government control — when is it good, when is it bad? Another thing I like about The Hunger Games is the philosophical questions it poses about our future, without knocking you over the head.  I’m sure you’ll be pondering the same questions for days.

The good news is that this book was released in the fall of 2008. The sequel, Catching Fire is in bookstores now and the third installment in the series, Mockingjay, came out this fall.

Tasha Cotter's work has recently appeared in or is forthcoming in Salt Hill Journal, Booth, Contrary Magazine, and elsewhere. Her fiction was recently nominated for a storySouth Million Writers award, and she regularly blogs for Contrary Magazine. You can find her online at www.tashacotter.com. More from this author →