This is the first book in a young adult series (and I think it shows!) about a dystopic world where the United States is now known as Panem. Divided into twelve distinct districts that each have their own industrial focus, Panem is ruled from the Capitol with an iron fist. To help keep the people in linewhich is very necessary considering everyone is kept on the brink of starvationthe Capitol requires each district to send two tributes (a boy and girl) to The Hunger Games each year. A country-wide televised event, The Hunger Games changes each year, with a special arena being constructed for each game. What doesn't change is the basic rule: all tributes must either kill or be killed, and only one tribute can be left standing at the end.
The concept of having young people being thrown together in an arena and being forced to fight to the death sounds horribleand it is, but it also makes for exciting reading. The story is told from the point-of-view of Katnissa 16-year-old girl from District 12 (the coal mining district in what used to be Appalachia). Katniss is not your average girl by today's standards. She's a rule-breaker (leaving the fenced district to hunt for food in the woods) and a skilled hunter, especially with bows and arrows. When her beloved younger sister Prim is selected as a tribute for the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to go in her place. As she enters the flamboyant, anything goes world of the Capitol, we learn more about the Games and her fellow tributePeeta, a good-looking son of a baker who showed kindness to Katniss years ago. When they are thrust into the arena, all bets are off as Katniss struggles to survive and be the last tribute standing. But Peeta throws a wrench into the mix and changes Katniss's game plan, leading to an ending that is sure to cause problems for everyone involved.
In the second book, Catching Fire, (and I doubt if you read the first book you won't continue on with the series), we get to find out what happens after the Hunger Games described in the first book. Once again, Collins sets up a cliffhanger ending that will probably ensure that the third installment will shoot straight to the top of the best-seller lists.
I'm not going to talk too much about these books as they've probably been discussed to death already. My guess is if the concept of the books appeals to you, you're going to read this series and will be pretty satisfied with them. I didn't think the writing was stellar and I had some issues with Katniss being unaware of what is going on around her (especially in the second book), but these books are meant to be fast exciting reads and they don't disappoint. Frankly, I felt Collins could have dropped the whole "love triangle" subplot and had a better book, but perhaps that is just me.
The Bottom Line: 4 stars for concept and 3.5 stars for execution. Perfect for young adults and anyone seeking a fast-moving dystopian tale that doesn't make you think too much. I read both books in a day. These books are the equivalent of eating a candy bara candy bar with spikes in itbut a candy bar nonetheless.
Reviewed by Cat for TeensReadToo.com
Twenty-four children: twelve boys, twelve girls, tributes selected by random lottery every year and sent to the capitol city of Panem to compete in a brutal, bloodthirsty fight for survival, with the last participant standing declared champion.
Welcome to the Hunger Games, a grim reminder to those living in the twelve districts comprising what was once the United States of their place as virtual slaves to the gleaming Capitol at their center.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen is this year's female representative for District 12, having volunteered to take her younger sister Prim's place. Sent to the arena with the baker's son and classmate, Peeta Mellark -- a boy who, several years prior, saved Kat and her family from the ravages of starvation after her father's death in a coal mining accident -- neither competitor from the final district seem to be contenders.
But Peeta's good nature and Kat's small stature belie the former's cunning intelligence and the latter's experience as a hunter; while a revelation from Peeta during the introductory ceremonies sends Katniss into the first day of competition more than a little off-kilter.
The stage is set, the tributes have arrived, and the cameras are watching...let the games begin.
It is no exaggeration to call THE HUNGER GAMES a pulse-pounding page-turner. Collins grabbed me from the first page and didn't let go. While Katniss isn't always the most likable character (in fact, there were plenty of times I much preferred the affable Peeta, or even sweet, birdlike little Ruth), she is always compelling, thanks to her rational approach to every challenge and her dogged determination.
While THE HUNGER GAMES is a plot-driven novel, the characters and their relationships are the heart of the story. Ms. Collins has created a dystopian tale of Orwellian caliber for young adults, giving any reader plenty to churn their minds between now and the next installment of this trilogy.
My only complaint is having to wait for the next installment.
This is a fantastic book, and series in general (although the first book was better than the second). I have never read Harry Potter or Twilight or any other "teen series" book that everyone is obsessed with, but after reading this book I can understand the hysteria. The characters are very well developed, easy to relate to, and interesting. The plot is unique, intriguing, horrifying, and entertaining all at once. It is a quick read and I suggest buying both books at the same time - you won't want any lag time between continuing the story!
Whew...Suzanne Collins sure can spin a yarn!!! I've seen good reviews and bad reviews...But all of my reading type friends pretty much backed me into a corner and forced me to start this book...I owe them all a dozen cookies...I flippin' LOVE this story...I rarely run into a book that makes me want to reread it or even give it a passing thought during the day...I find myself thinking about Katniss' world quite often during the day...The world is such a fickle place that this could be based on reality...It didn't really have the feel of a sci-fi book...I could feel the emotion...I could smell the moss in the air and I could see the faces of the tributes as they went about trying to survive the games...Times are difficult for so many right now and I could feel the emotion in Katniss as she struggled to provide for Prim and her Mother...I will say this about the book...It seems to me that most young adult authors are using the same template for their novels...Girl torn between two loves...It works in this book...Katniss does not come off as a whiney teenager but a girl who struggles to make the best of what has been handed to her...I am devouring Catching Fire right now and cannot wait until I can start Mockingjay...I am also looking forward to the movie adaptation in March...I hope they do the book justice...There are many who have this on their wish list but a word to the wise...Go buy it...The paperback is only around $7.00 right now and it is worth EVERY penny...I can't let go of my copy...This book is a keeper!!!
The Hunger Games, is exciting page-turner you can't set down. When first reading you get hooked on the first page. The plot is flawless, and writing intelligently done. The sequel is much anticipated.