Northeastern Illinois University's student-run newspaper

The Independent

The Hunger Games

Nicole Lela, Staff Writer

February 26, 2012

Filed under Book Reviews

The Hunger Games, a fictional young adult novel written by Suzanne Collins, has grown in popularity within the past year. With a board game already created inspired by the book, and a feature film due for release March 23, many are curious to know what all of the buzz is about. Curiosity got the best of me, so I bought the novel, which was so engaging that I finished the book in two days. This action-packed story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem, which is what remains of North America. The story unfolds from Katniss Everdeen's point of view from the twelfth district, considered the poorest district. The government rules from the central city of Panem, known as the Capitol, and holds the power over all twelve districts. There was once a thirteenth district that decided to rebel against the Capitol, and in return was demolished. In order to keep the civilians in each district "behaving," the government created the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are an annual event where one boy and one girl (aged 12 to 18) from each of the 12 districts is selected to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive. The children are chosen at random, and are immediately sent out to prepare to fight for their lives in the arena. The arena changes each year, and can be any type of habitat from a hot scorching desert, to freezing snowy mountains. The participants are challenged mentally, physically and emotionally. The more survival skills they have, such as hunting, hiding and most importantly, killing, the better chance they have at winning the game and returning home to their families. Only 1 of the 24 participants would survive. When Katniss' fragile 12-year-old sister got chosen to play, she voluntarily took her sister's place. Katniss had hunted her whole life, and knew she had a better chance of surviving than her sibling, although that chance was still slim. Many of the other competitors from the wealthier districts 1, 2, and 3 had trained their whole lives to compete in the Hunger Games, treating the ordeal like a sport rather than a battle to the death. While Katniss was determined to keep to herself and focus on her goal of surviving, unexpected alliances changed the flow of the whole game, within the arena and outside of it. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat with suspense. It is full of unexpected triumphs and tragedies. The biggest surprise comes right at the end of the book, and leaves the reader wondering what will happen next. Luckily, The Hunger Games series is a trilogy and there are two more books to dive into after the first. Make sure to get your hands on Catching Fire and Mocking Jay, also by Suzanne Collins, and don't forget to watch the film which comes out next month! Published: Saturday, February 25, 2012 Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 01:02...

The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi

Emily Haddad, Associate Managing Editor & News Editor

January 24, 2012

Filed under Book Reviews

  When first picking up ‘The Alchemist' by Paolo Bacigalupi, I admittedly confused it with ‘The Alchemist' by Paolo Coehlo and even felt somewhat duped. A similarly named author putting out a novella with the exact same name as well-known, highly-acclaimed novel? Shenanigans, I say. But the hegemony-rich world Bacigalupi brings to life is nothing like the stark philosophical landscape of Coehlo's book. Bacigalupi's "The Alchemist" is set in the Middle Ages of an alternate reality in the city of Khaim where magic use used to be common- place, but is now punishable by death. With civilization set upon by a mysterious bramble plague, a link was found between magic use and the explosive growth of magic-loving brambles that engulf fields, choke off roads and poison anyone who touches the branches. The book opens with a heart-wrenching scene about a widowed alchemist named Jeoz who is desperately trying to pry his sobbing young daughter away from the last piece of valuable furniture the family has to sell, her own little bed. Once a rich and influential man, Jeoz lost everything except his daughter and one loyal servant as his city declined and his livelihood drained away. The alchemist had become obsessed with finding a way to use alchemy to defeat the brambles that are destroying his country. By using the brambles own affinity for magic as a polarizing agent, the Jeoz creates a device that has the potential to strike a real blow against the bramble plague. But the upper society in Khaim has grown used to life with the bramble and dark machinations threaten the lives of everyone in the city as a result. At 96 pages, ‘The Alchemist' is a quick read and an intriguing stand-alone story. It's currently available as a hardcover and as a very inexpensive Kindle edition. However, if the bramble-threatened world of Khaim interests you beyond ‘The Alchemist,' there is a second novella named ‘The Executioness' written by Tobias Buckell about the same world that both continues the story and functions as a stand-alone work. Paolo Bacigalupi is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy author from Colorado that has written several other full-length books, including ‘The Windup Girl' and ‘Ship Breaker.'  ...

Honoring Our History Makers

Janean L. Watkins, Managing Editor

February 21, 2011

Filed under Book Reviews

In honor of Black History Month 2011, we thought it fitting to borrow a bit of history. Standing as the preface in the historically rich work, "The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States", a letter written by Mr. Frederick Douglass, showcases the support and camaraderie of Mr. Douglass...