The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

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Author’s website
Publication date – October 1, 2008

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Thoughts: As a fan of dystopias, I was sure I’d like this book, especially after hearing nonstop good reviews for it. I’m very happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed once while reading this one.

Well, that’s a lie. I was. Once. When I had to stop reading it because I had work to do. But that’s not the book’s fault, and I won’t hold that against it.

This is definitely a book you feel uncomfortale going into, because you know that if you root for anyone other than Katniss, you’re entirely likely to be disappointed. Bitterly. In a Battle Royale situation, where only one can win, pinning your hopes on anyone who isn’t the main character is just foolish.

Which is the book’s main flaw, really. The actions scenes were wonderfully tense, and Katniss didn’t escape without injury, but when you’re reading about a kill-or-be-killed situation from the first-person point of view, you know in advance how it’s going to end. You know that Katniss will live. It can take away from the tension at moments, because even though you can recognize the danger she’s in, you also know, in the back of your mind, that she’ll find a way to survive. It’s less about faith in a character and more about predestination.

That being said, I think this story would have suffered had it not been from Katniss’s point of view, so this is definitely a moment of “your mileage may vary.”

There were, happily, some twists and turns thrown in to keep the reader interested. The development of alliances, the rule changes, and the omnipresent disgust you have to feel at the people who are watching teenagers beat each others’ brains out on live TV. I felt a definitely sense of satisfaction at Katniss and Peeta’s final “screw you” to the Capitol, which wasn’t at all overshadowed by the fact that I knew they’d make it out alive.

I closed this book wanting to open the next one immediately. Sadly, I don’t have a copy yet, so I’m going to have to wait to continue these adventures. I’ve got to say though, that they’re definitely adventures well worth continuing. I can see clearly what all the hype has been about!

7 comments on “The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

  1. I devoured these books in about two weeks. I bought the first one then, when I found that the second and third were only in hardback, put myself on several library waiting lists. Finally, a bookstore near me was going out of business (sad) but I could afford Mockingjay in hardback.

    My husband finds the same fault in the first person narrative as you did, he found it difficult to really believe the peril Katniss is in because she's telling the story. But I found the tension of what she would decide to do, when she really couldn't do the right thing (ie, not kill) fascinating. The moral imperative was ambiguous enough to give me pause. What would I do in the Hunger Games? Usually, the answer was curl up into a ball and die!

  2. Hello
    This is a great series without doubt. I was a bit hesitant at first because I wasn't sure I would like a book where young adults are thrown into a situation where they have to kill or be killed. I wondered how that would make me feel but I think the author manages to overcome that by not focusing on the deaths but on the survivors.
    Excellent reads and you still have two very good books to look forward to.
    Thanks
    Lynn

  3. Okay, now you've made me want to pick up a copy of this as soon as possible! It's already on my wishlist today – hopefully they'll be a special offer in my local book store soon! :-)

  4. I read Hunger Games before there was hype and then had to wait for the next to come out.

    Yes, it certainly is a very tense book– and I thought about it for weeks afterward. Not so with the next two books but they are good too.

  5. I loved these books! The major complaint I had about this first one though was that I found it TOO similar to Battle Royale, which I'd read when I was 14 or 15 and pretty much scarred me for life. I noticed the changes to it, but as a whole this book felt like a way less intense version of Battle Royale.

    That was my sole criticism. When I read this series, I couldn't put them down and I pretty much lived in their world until I finished them – I'd show up in class and have no idea what was happening because I'd still be thinking about the books.

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