Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games
Read By: Carolyn McCormick
Length: 11h 10m (384 pages)
Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Started: 03 December 2009
Finished: 07 December 2009
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I’d been hearing about it for ages and finally gave in to peer pressure.
with strength and strategy your
only two allies.
Summary: Once a year, everyone must gather for the Reaping – a process by which one teenaged boy and one teenaged girl from each District are selected as Tributes to go to the Capitol and compete in the Hunger Games. The whole process is a reminder of the Capitol’s power, and a punishment of the Districts for an ancient rebellion – for the Hunger Games are not some friendly competition, but rather a battle to the death. Twenty-four Tributes go into the specially designed arena, where they must face not only the perils of wilderness survival, but also traps placed by the gamemakers to increase the entertainment of the viewing audience – not to mention the deadly attacks of their fellow Tributes.
When Katniss hears her younger sister’s name drawn at the Reaping, she panics. There’s no way Prim can possibly survive – and so Katniss volunteers to go in her place. However, District 12 – mainly made up of poor coal miners – hasn’t had a Hunger Games champion in years, and no one expects much out of Katniss or Peeta, a baker’s son who is the male Tribute. Katniss does have a slight advantage – she’s been illegally hunting to provide for her family for years – but in the kill-or-be-killed world of the Hunger Games, food may be the least of Katniss’s worries.
Review: To give a brief flavor of my opinion of this book, I’m actually going to give you my friend’s opinion first. I finished The Hunger Games, and immediately went raving about it to a friend who shares a similar taste in books. I managed to convince her to start it sooner rather than later, and a few hours after she started reading, the following IM conversation took place:
Her: “OMG THE HUNGER GAMES IS SO GOOD. It’s caps-lock good.”
Me: “Told you.”
And it is. It really is caps-lock good. It’s so good, I can’t believe that no one told about it before. Okay, fine, people have been saying how good it is for at least the past year, but I can’t believe no one has ever sat me down and said “No, really, you need to read this, and you need to read it now.” Dystopian novels are typically very hit-or-miss for me, but this one was a hit. A big one.
I’ll start with the positives. First, this book is insanely compelling. I listened to the bulk of it almost straight through, completely lost in the story and hating every interruption that made me take off my headphones. This book’s got tension and suspense dripping off its pages, and there was just no way I was going to go to bed before finding out what happened to Katniss. This book didn’t even have the normal problem of series books that try to create tension; normally I’m not terribly worried for the main characters’ lives, since I know there’s another book to come, but in this case, I was rarely 100% sure that Katniss was going to come out of the arena unscathed. The action is pretty much non-stop throughout the book, and even when there’s nothing actually happening, Katniss is always thinking, always planning, and it was always completely riveting. She’s a very well-developed and relatable character, and I found myself totally wrapped up with her fate (even if she could on occasion be a little bit thick-headed.)
Now, the negatives: … I can’t really find any. There’s a pretty strong element of deus ex machina throughout the story, but that’s sort of the point – the gamemakers can do whatever they like to the tributes in the arena. A lot of the technology isn’t explained, but since Katniss is a poor girl from one of the outer districts, she’d have no idea how any of it worked anyways. A lot of questions are left unanswered, and topics left unexplored, but not so that it makes the book feel incomplete… just so that I immediately want to dive into the sequel. The only thing I can possibly think to ding it for is the present-tense writing, which normally annoys me… but in this case, even that works to the story’s advantage, giving Katniss’s predicament a real sense of immediacy.
So, yeah. Caps-lock good. 5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Read it. If you have even the slightest inclination towards dystopian fiction, survival fiction, modern young adult literature, or really good stories in general, you should pick this one up sooner rather than later.
Links: – I wonder if Suzanne Collins is a Dawson’s Creek fan? Because a key scene in The Hunger Games felt *awfully* reminiscent of one of the best scenes in all of Dawson’s Creek… and used, word-for-word, the single best line of dialogue ever uttered on that show.
– Series 7: The Contenders is a movie from 2001 that is essentially the same plot as The Hunger Games, although it’s adults instead of teenagers, and it’s not in a dystopian future… plus it came out *before* the vast reality TV boom of recent years. I haven’t seen it in years, but I remember it as being darkly funny, and worth watching, particularly for fans of the book who are interested in comparing.
Other Reviews: As Usual I Need More Bookshelves, At Home With Books, The Bluestocking Society, The Book Nest, Books and Movies, Dear Author, Devourer of Books, Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?, I’m Booking It!, In Search of Giants, The Infinite Shelf, My Friend Amy, Presenting Lenore, ReviewsbyLola’s Blog, Rhapsody In Books Weblog, YA Fabulous, YAnnabe
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.
Cover Thoughts: Honestly, I can’t help but wonder if the cover is part of the reason it took me so long to get around to the book. After having read it, I now get the significance of the bird in the gold hoop with the arrow, but on the whole, the design still leaves me cold. It doesn’t tell me anything about the plot of the book, it doesn’t tell me much about the tone of the book, and the font choices and some of the design elements suggest that it’s more tech-y, space-ship-y sci-fi than is actually the case.