The Hunger Games - Hunger Games, Bk 1 Author:Suzanne Collins 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 deat... more »h on live TV.
Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen 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 death 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 weigh survival against humanity and life against love.« less
THE HUNGER GAMES is without doubt one of the best books I have ever read. 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives with her family and friends in what used to be North America. Now, it's divided up into 12 impoverished fenced-in Districts and ruled by the faraway Capitol of Panem. The Capitol keeps all the Districts in line by hosting the annual Hunger Games. One boy and one girl--called "tributes"--are randomly selected to fight all the other tributes to the death on live TV.
Katniss frantically volunteers in place of her beloved and delicate young sister, Prim, when Prim is chosen. While Prim would not have stood a chance, Katniss is strong and resourceful. Often she has hunted illegally in the woods outside of their district to provide food for her family.
She is joined in the Hunger Games by Peeta Mellark, the baker's son. Katniss is a coal miner's daughters and thus their socioeconomically different lives have never crossed, except once when Peeta basically saved her life. But now she knows that they must kill each other if they want to get out of the Hunger Games alive...even if they may or may not have feelings for each other.
THE HUNGER GAMES is suspenseful, action-packed, and well-written, with an endearing love story. Suzanne Collins spins a terrifying dystopian world for readers. I was only sad when the book ended too soon and left some important issues--will anything be done about the totalitarian government?--unanswered. However, the ending seems to promise a sequel, which I will anxiously await.
Young adult novels have always had a dark side, so to speak; a sub-genre that eschews peer pressure and turbulent relationships for death, despair, and destruction. This is not a recent trend. For every Death Note you find today, you can find an equally disturbing Z for Zachariah. While much of todays dark teen novels lean towards the supernatural, you will occasionally find one that ventures into more classical science fiction territory. Suzanne Collins newest YA novel, The Hunger Games, does so quite successfully. The setting is grim and oppressive, the characters are desperate and hopeless, and the specter of death hangs over every page. And every page will drag the reader eagerly to the next.
Strong and positive female leads are important in young adult novels, and The Hunger Games has the perfect hero in Katniss Everdeen. She is tough, resolute, intelligent, and able. Yet, she still struggles with the same confused feelings and emotions that young girls need to cope with, even when not fighting to the death in a government sponsored reality show/snuff film. As she struggles to survive the deadly prime-time death match she has been unfairly thrust into, she deal not only with these typical teenage dilemmas, but also greater issues concerning government, society, morality, and honor.
All of this might seem like a lot for one book to handle, but Hunger Games manages to do so without coming off too preachy or instructional. Granted, the Hunger Games themselves (which are very reminiscent of previous books like Stephen Kings Running Man, or Koushun Takamis manga series Battle Royale), as well as the post-apocalyptic dictatorship Panem that holds the event, might not hold up under the scrutiny that hardcore science-fiction novels sometimes demand. But for a young adult science-fantasy novel like this, demanding one-hundred-percent social-political realism seems a tad unfair. What matters is that the characters and setting support the characters and subject matter, and manage to do so with the captivating suspense of any mainstream paperback thriller.
If I had to pick just one book that I most enjoyed in 2008, this would probably be it. Now, I have to add the caveat that I read lots of series this year, and it seemed unfair to try to pick one book from a series like Meyers' Twilight books or Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse saga. So Hunger Games did get a little help in that department. But even with that said.... wow. This is just a great book.
In The Hunger Games, Collins creates another one of those dystopian societies that I love so much. In her world, America is no longer. There's been some kind of a big life-changing event that has reduced the nation into 12 disticts, all under totalitarian rule by the Capital. In this world, the people are starving and once a year, young people ages 12-18 are forced to enter their names into a drawing to participate in The Hunger Games, a life-or-death reality show from hell in which the victors are treated to a life of luxury while all the other competitors perish.
Yes, the story is a little familiar. It's reminiscent of The Long Walk or The Running Man by Stephen King, and there's a little bit of Lord of the Flies in here, too. But the characters are well developed and likeable. The dialogue is great. And -- here's the best part -- its only the first book. The story ends with a major cliffhanger that drove me to immediately visit Amazon to figure out how long I had to wait for the next installment.
"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."
I loved this book! The book tells of brutal survival and yet the characters remain human. I can't wait until the next book comes out.
Karen H. reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 3
Excellent! This isn't my normal read, but I happened upon an excerpt; intrigued, I checked it out of the library and liked it so much I bought the book for my 16 yr old son. He loved it also. The sequel "Catching Fire" came out 9-1-09. Of course I bought that one. The other reviews give you an idea what the book is about, so I'll just say, the subject matter is handled well. It's a page-turning, good read.
I saw the film first, and I got into it more than I did the book. While I found Katniss' narration intriguing at first, it wasn't long before I started wishing I wasn't limited to her point-of-view the entire book. I wanted to get into some of the other characters' heads, like Peeta, Gale, Cinna, Haymitch, etc.
And although it was easy to read, the concept of making adolescents and teenagers kill each other off for sport didn't really come across the page as all that believable to me. It felt more like a forced, gimmicky dystopian society, rather than something you could actually see happening at some point in the future.
Overall, I give THE HUNGER GAMES a C. It's no doubt much more suited for its intended teenaged audience, the gore and death being right on par with a lot of the video games they've been playing for years! LOL
I tried resisting the "fad", since I really don't like getting into things only because they're "popular", but the more I heard about this book the more I felt as though it really was something I would probably like. So, finally, I had to read it, especially in light of the upcoming movie. It turns out that it really is quite exciting and a fun read. Perhaps not very original (the core story idea dates all the way back to Greek mythology, and has been recycled many times since), but reused in a new way so you don't feel as though you really know the story already. It's a very entertaining book that kept me riveted throughout, and I'll definitely be reading the rest of the trilogy right away. If you like Young Adult fantasy/action/post-apocalyptic fiction, then you'll really enjoy this book, and I highly recommend it.