Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games was a nice treat. I’ve been drifting awhile in the sci-fi/fantasy genre and, finally, I’ve found what I’m looking for. This is a dystopian plot set in a post-U.S.A. North America that is broken into twelve districts. It’s a clever set-up and serves as a nice backdrop for the lives of those forced to play the hunger games – a Coliseum-like event set in the 21st century. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen is in the unfortunate position of a “tribute” or a player of the Hunger Games. She must search and destroy the other players before they seek and destroy her.

This book has some great action and adventure while teenagers fight for survival in the expansive arena. Weapons are used. People die in not so good ways. But all in the name of entertainment. Or, is it that simple? No, no! Just as the emperors of Rome used the Coliseum, the games are meant to inspire a fearful loyalty as much as they are meant to entertain. As the protagonist so clearly sees, the Capitol city uses the games to say “Look at how we can make you destroy yourselves so, don’t question our rule.” But not everybody feels negatively about the games. Many are avid fans who support certain tributes and bet on them. Katniss is deeply conflicted between her instinct for self-defense and her aversion to killing another person. Although there is violence I find the text illustrates how not simple being a part of violence is. Every victory in the games comes with physical and emotional baggage which is not easily gotten over. There’s a lot to draw out of this book and the violence is just one aspect of The Hunger Games. The Capitol stands as a symbol for decadent living – the ultimate fashion, food and power center. But their luxuries come at a price. Perhaps more than the strict laws imposed upon the district people, the ultimate flaw is that the citizens of the Capitol have become blind to their greed and inhumanity. I could go on but I’ll get to the gist of it…

At first, the prose was not drawing me in. On page one the first-person present-tense narration turned me off and I thought “Oh, no. Not present tense and first person.” Not my favorite POV. However, the prose gradually improved until I really enjoyed Katniss’ narration. I felt inside her head, hearing a twig snap when she did, feeling panic when she did. I even teared up a couple times. By the middle of the book I was hooked and had to know how the games would end. It seems all great sagas tend to draw out the begining a bit. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Catching Fire. Besides the semi-slow draw, this was a great book. If you haven’t read it yet, hop on the wagon.
Publisher: Scholastic, 2008     Recommended Age: 12 and up
Rating: 4.5 Stars                        Pages: 374   Source: IC Public Library
P.S. The Coliseum picture is one I took when I was in Rome last summer. It was strange to stand in a place where people died. Can you imagine watching such a "game"?


  1. I love that book!!! Team Gale :)

  2. I feel like I'm the last person left in the world who hasn't read Hunger Games. All of the reviews I read, including yours have peaked my interest, though.

  3. Like you, I had a bit of a hard time getting into the Hunger Games, but about 40 pages in, I was hooked. You'll love Catching Fire too!

  4. I loved Hunger Games & Catching Fire -- I'm already on hold for Mockingbird at the library. :)

  5. Oh wow. This sounds kind of Stephen King-esque (or rather, Richard Bachman-esque). I was so horrified by The Long Walk but I couldn't put it down for the entire novella. It made me disgusted at myself that I enjoyed it that much.

    This sounds more educational though too. I might have to give it a read to see if it's something to put on a shelf for my daughter when she's older.

    Great review!

  6. Becki- I haven't made it through a King novel yet. I'm not into horror that much. Suspense, yes. I think young kids can enjoy Collins w/out nightmares! =)

    Buffy - WOW, you're on top of things! My library already has 22 hold on it. I may have to purchase this one!

    I have a suspicison I'm on team Gale...not sure yet.

  7. Chelle -- I know, I'm a bit ridiculous, eh?

    A woman I know recently went to her book club dressed as Katniss. :)