“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #1
Published: 2008 by Scholastic
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 374
Source: Gift
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Over the past few months, many of my friends and relatives have told me that “The Hunger Games” is fantastic and is something that I absolutely must read.  I’ve been meaning to read it for a while, especially after the whole Darkness Too Visible controversy last summer.  As the movie is coming out next month, I decided that it was finally time.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic North America, which is divided between the Capitol and thirteen districts.  Around 75 years before the story begins, the districts revolted against the Capitol’s control.  The revolution ended disastrously.  District 13 was annihilated, and as punishment and a warning against future uprisings, the Hunger Games were created.  The names of one boy and one girl from each district are drawn every year, and those children are sent to the Capitol as tribute, where they fight each other to the death in an arena.

Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist, is a teenager from District 12 who spends her days in the forests with her friend Gale, poaching to scavenge enough meat to feed their starving families.  When that year’s tributes from District 12 are selected, Katniss’ little sister’s name is called.  Katniss volunteers to take her place in order to save her life, and the Hunger Games begin.  Meanwhile, Katniss is conflicted by her feelings for Gale and her feelings for Peeta, the male tribute from her district.

Collins’ writing is decent.  She switches tenses in weird places at times, and the first book in the trilogy has some major editing issues, but at the same time, it’s the kind of book that is impossible to put down once you start reading it.

“The Hunger Games” is geared toward a young adult audience, and is a relatively quick read.  The controversy surrounding this book comes from the fact that much of the plot is about kids killing kids.  At the same time, the messages of the book promote self-sacrifice and trying to do the right thing despite enormous pressure, while taking a strong stand against authoritarianism.  It certainly has a better message than “Lord of the Flies.”

I’m glad that I finally read “The Hunger Games,” and I think that it’s worth the read.  It’s a fast-paced novel filled with adventure and complex themes, and I particularly recommend it for reluctant readers.

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This book counts toward The 2012 Science Fiction Experience hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings and the Speculative Fiction Challenge hosted by Baffled Books.

“The Hunger Games” also counts toward the Award Winning Books Reading Challenge hosted by Gathering Books, as it won a Golden Duck Award for Best Young Adult Fiction in 2009.  The Golden Duck Awards promote science fiction literature for children and young adult audiences.  “The Hunger Games” also won a 2011 California Young Reader Medal and a 2008 Cybil Award for Fantasy & Science Fiction.

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21 comments

  1. I read the entire trilogy in a month’s time. Considering the amount of work I have at the university, that was quite a feat. I know that this is not your staple read, so I am glad that you gave YA a chance and that you did manage to enjoy yourself. 🙂 Smart as well since the movie, like you noted, is coming out, in a month’s time. Hope it lives up to the hype. BTW, the link for the month of february is now up here: http://main.gatheringbooks.org/?page_id=246

    1. I read it very quickly, mostly because I got so caught up in the story that I couldn’t put it down. At the same time, it made getting through the rest of that week a bit hellish, lol.

      I’m curious as to whether the movie will do the book justice.

    1. I liked the second two books in the series better than the first one. Then again, I also get mad when books don’t end, so I like to read trilogies at the same time instead of waiting.

    1. Same here; I’ve been unimpressed with a lot of the books that everybody talks about. I need to learn to get over that if I’m going to be a decent librarian, lol. Overall, this book was a lot better than I had expected.

  2. Excellent review. I think we had pretty similar thoughts on the book, and I’m really looking forward to seeing your reviews on the rest of the series. I’m a little over halfway on book 3 right now, and thus far it’s been a mixed bag for me.

    1. Thanks. The books do have their flaws, but I like the way that readers are drawn in regardless. There were points where I got a bit annoyed with the writing and the romance drama, but even so, I couldn’t put the books down.

  3. The Hunger Games was the very first book my bookclub read way back in September 2010. I give the series complete credit for the club’s success because everyone found something to love in the story and we are greatly anticipating the movie’s release. Like you said, this series is a great recommendation for the reluctant reader – however, my husband refuses to read them since the movie is being released. Can’t win them all, I suppose!

    1. This would definitely be a good bookclub read! I’m curious about the movie, but I’m not expecting much, because I’m generally disappointed when I see movies based on books that I’ve read. Then again, the trailer made it seem like they might have gotten this one right. 😀

  4. I have read The Hunger Games two years ago as it was recommended by my cousin. I was a bit hesitant to read it at first because the book was not in my “comfort genre”, but I ended up liking the story in the end. Just like you said, it was quite disturbing reading kids killing each other, but as the story progresses, especially in the next two books, the deeper message it tries to convey has become more prominent.

    1. I had read enough about the controversy that when I finally read “The Hunger Games,” I expected to be a bit more disturbed. I mean, there are kids killing kids, but it isn’t gratuitous and it serves to further the storyline and themes. It was an emotional read, and the second books even moreso, but I think that it’s definitely appropriate for a YA audience.

    1. The trailer thus far looks like it’ll be a decent movie; I’m hoping so, because movies tend not to live up to the books that they are based on. Thanks for commenting! 😀

  5. The first book is my favorite in the trilogy. I was reluctant to read the books at first because the story just seemed too weird and dark for my taste but after much a many recommendations from coworkers I started reading them. I ended up finishing the entire trilogy in a weeks time. I would of read it faster had it not been for the fact that I had to work 🙂 Anyway, my point is that I ended up loving the stories and am now recommending the books to everyone I know.

    1. I was scared at first that it was going to be like Twilight… I’m so glad it wasn’t! I enjoyed the books a lot, and I’m curious about the movie!

  6. I’ve been contemplating this series but I have a question: Does the novel read like a Hollywood movie? I really dislike that. If it does, I’ll avoid. If not I’ll give it a chance.

    1. The love triangle was obnoxious, but the rest of the book was pretty good. Since the Hunger Games event is broadcast to the whole country, there are a lot of parts where Katniss is wondering if the camera is looking at her. I felt like it still read like a book, albeit a very fast-paced one, but I can’t vouch for anybody else’s opinions on that.

  7. Don’t agree with your review at all. You don’t touch upon the significance of any of the themes, the societal implications, and why it’s better than Lord of the Flies. Many people don’t understand how significant the authoritarian themes are because they somehow equate the love triangle with Twilight (which has no point or significant message). I expected better from you lol. 🙂

    1. Well, to be fair, the love triangle here had no point or significant message until the end of the third book. It was Katniss leading on two very nice guys and in the process shortchanging both of them. If Gale and Peeta weren’t so similar in terms of personality it might be different, but they tend to differ mostly in circumstance rather than character. I felt like the love triangle was one of the biggest weaknesses that the book had.

      As for the Lord of the Flies comparison, in this book, Katniss participates in the Hunger Games and kills in order to save her sister’s life and preserve her own. She’s not doing it by choice, but being forced into it by an authoritarian government. In Lord of the Flies, the kids killing kids sends the opposite message–that in the absence of strong authority (ie. parents), the children reverted to a primitive violent anarchy assumed to be the State of Nature found in most social contract theories. One book was writing against authoritarianism, while the other implicitly supported it.

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