Book Reviews of The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1)

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1)
The Hunger Games - Hunger Games, Bk 1
Author: Suzanne Collins
ISBN-13: 9780439023481
ISBN-10: 0439023483
Publication Date: 9/14/2008
Pages: 384
Reading Level: Young Adult
  • Currently 4.7/5 Stars.

4.7 stars, based on 909 ratings
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

44 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 962 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
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.
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 95 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
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.
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 158 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
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.
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.
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 152 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
From the cover:

"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.
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Reviewed by Cat for

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.
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 120 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
My son read this book, and my husband picked it up and read it too, so I had put it aside to read. It only took a weekend to finish because I could not put it down! The book has a wonderfully crafted plot. Because there is a sequel, the reader knows that the end of the book will result somehow in the survival of the protagonist, but the author keeps your complete interest in how she will get you to that point. I would compare the author to Hieronymus Bosch; she creates unique and fantastic creatures (the mockingjay and trackerjacks) and with a few words, she manages to create all types of settings (the Capitol, the Seam, the Arena). Don't underestimate this book because it is young adult fiction.
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
What can I say about this book? The first thing that comes to mind is WOW! this is an amazing book. I have been wanting to read this book for awhile now and all I can say is that it definitely lives up to the hype. I was hooked from the first page. The author does a beautiful job of laying out the imagery of the story and you can't help but feel emotionally attached from the start.

The story of the world of Panem is heart wrenching. How awful to live in a world where your every word and move is under constant scrutiny, where the rulers live in luxury while the rest struggle to just survive. The Capitol is a disgusting reminder of what a government with too much power is capable of doing. The Hunger Games is an even more frightening thought. It was hard not to become emotionally attached to the characters, especially when you know only one can come out alive.

The characters in this story are amazing. It is hard not to like them all mostly due to the fact that it isn't their fault that they are in the games. I would say my favorite was Katniss. She is hardcore and I found her easy to relate to. Peeta is sweet and smart. The emotional connection that develops between them is evident from the start and plays out beautifully.

There are many twists in this story which keep the pages turning quickly. Just when you think everything is okay, here comes something else. It definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat. I loved this book and am anxious to finish the rest of the series. Every page keeps you wanting more and more.
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
first thing on my mind after closing the book was that this story has a lot of substance when it comes to love, sacrifice, hope and courage. i feel the "you and me" against the world, post-apocalyptic, rebellious theme.

i've enjoyed reading it so much! took me 2 days to finish the book and it would've taken me lesser time (probably a few hours of non-stop reading) had i not have any other things to do. i was already hooked the first few pages of the story. i can vividly picture in my mind everything happening in the book like i'm actually there with the characters. can you imagine 12-18 year olds battling, trying to kill and out-smart each other to survive because they were forced to do so, as a sick way of reminding its people not to go against their government?

i love the plot and the clever way the author played the characters around and the situations. i highly recommend it.
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 101 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Wow, this book was amazing! I was pulled in from start to finish! I'm going to start on the next right away becuase I can't wait to know what's going to happen to Katniss Everdeen the main character in the story!
the ruins of what was once North America,is now the nation of Panem a capital city which is surrounded by, and harshly rules over 12 different districts. It is in district 12 where Katniss lives with her mother and sister. Fenced in their district they are forbidden to step outside of their district into the surrounding woods, and forbidden to make contact with other districts. Here people are starving, so Katniss and her best friend do all that they can to put some food on the table for their families, even breaking the law to do it, which is very dangerous.
As if all this is not bad enough there is something more to fear than starving to death. Every year the districts gather in their city squares for what is called the reaping. The reaping is when two names are drawn from each district, one boy and one girl, to fight in an arena til the death. Only one person can be victorious.
I feel like I have given away enough of the story already so I will leave it at that. This is an awesome book that you don't want to miss!
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book is extremely dark and twisted.... but an amazingly good read... I cannot wait for the release of the sequel this September... definitely one you will be thinking about LONG after you have finished it...
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 98 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Even if young adult books are not your cup of tea, you might like this one!

The book is set in a futuristic America, which has been divided into 13 districts. Each year, each district is required to send a girl and a by to The Hunger Games--a survival of the fittest game televised throughout the country. Katniss, a poacher from District 12, and Peeta, a baker's son, are thrust into the arena with only their wits to survive.

I don't want to give away any of the story, so I will stop there. Suffice it to say that I found the book entertaining, compelling, and readable. Not to bash Twilight, but I think this book is a far superior Young Adult book. There is something for everyone: adventure, suspense, and romance.

I am ordering the next in the series tomorrow. This book would make a great movie!
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 31 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Started and finished reading "The Hunger Games" today. First book in a while that I've wanted to keep reading, and reading, and reading. Had to go pre-order book 2 from

Young Adult fiction....? It is not only for young adults. Adults will enjoy this as well.

If you like this book, you may also enjoy "The Long Walk" by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) and vice versa.
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 334 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I had long put off reading this, because all the hype made me wary. But review after review kept singing its praises so I finally became interested enough to put it on my TBR. I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

In Collins's post-apocalyptic world, the nation of Panem has risen from the ashes of North America. The central Capitol controls 12 surrounding Districts, where life is hand-to-mouth harsh with the ever-present threat of starvation. One of the Capitol's ways of controlling the Districts is the annual Hunger Games, the ultimate reality show where a boy and girl from each district is chosen by lottery to compete in a fight to the death, the winner guaranteed a life of luxury. This year one unfortunate name chosen for District 12 is 12-year-old Primrose Everdeen. Horrified for her beloved younger sister, 16-year-old Katniss, on whose scavenging and hunting skills her mother and sister depend for survival, volunteers to take her place. Now if she wants to stay alive, she must not only fight but kill while the whole world watches.

From the opening, the book captured and held my attention. Collins's writing style is smooth and compelling, the pace perfectly maintained, the suspense riveting, the world very believable, the characters easy for the reader to get emotionally invested in, the ending a climax that does not disappoint after an intense buildup. The book truly deserves the accolades heaped on it. And yet - my actual rating is 4.75 stars. Rounded up to 5, yes, but while I thoroughly enjoyed this, it fell short of a sledgehammer effect on me. Still, I definitely recommend it!
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 115 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I don't really know what else to say, that hasn't already been said. So I'll make this reveiw short and to the point. I finally did it. I read "The Hunger Games" and now I can finally watch the movie! It was an amazing and well written story of political injustice and love of all varieties. The whole book was refreshingly unpredictable. Not sure how anyone could read this book and not love it!!! Must Read!!!
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Helpful Score: 1
I loved it. Part horror, part science fiction, part Survivor, part gamesmanship. Collins draws you in with the perfect balance of an alternate universe and present day parallels. Very reminiscent of Stephen King's The Long Walk.

4.5 stars out of 5
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 1080 more book reviews
The Hunger Games is is a competition to die for. Volunteering to save her beloved sister, Prim, Karniss becomes the female representative of her district, District 12. The trainers pair her with Peeta Mallark, the baker's son who saved her, Prim and her mother from starvation when they had no food after her father died. Karissa and Peeta train together, paired as sweethearts but the test comes when one must kill the other. The competition becomes intense as district representative after district representative meet their ends. A well written story, Karness and Peeta become a team to try to defeat the others. Can they do it? Can they kill each other when the time comes? The story ends, leaving a wonderful opening for the second in the series.
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 3 more book reviews
Hands down, one of my new favorite series. I was literally addicted to these books!! I couldn't wait to sit down and read and find out what happened next to Katniss and Peeta. I'm ready to read them a second time!! I cant wait til the movie is out, I really hope its just as good as the book is!!
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Whoosh! A real thrill-ride of a book, with an unexpected plot, a captivating anti-heroine, well-developed characters (even minor characters!), and an ending that leaves one wanting more! Read it almost in one fell swoop, up til 3 am Fri night and right back at the novel the next morning. Ha! I LOVE it when a book surprises me and sweeps me away like Hunger Games did!
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What an awesome book. It's been a while since I've read a book that I lost sleep over. I couldn't put this book down. The way Suzanne Collins wrote just kept you in suspense. There was no time to dawdle just read, read, read.
It is set in the future in the US. The earth was nearly destroyed. The US was rebuilt into districts plus a capitol. It started off with 13 districts but they went together and rebelled against the capitol. The capitol won and district 13 was totally destroyed. So now there are 12 districts that live in fear of the capitol. Each district supplies the capitol with what it needs. One way the capitol keeps everyone in line is by having the Hunger Games. This is a game were a boy and a girl from each district between the ages of 12-18 is put in a arena and made to battle each other until there is only one living child left. That child is the victor and their district is supplemented a little better.
The book starts off in District 12 where the supply there is coal. There are many mining accidents and people often starve to death. There we also meet Katniss. She has learned to survive after her father died in a mining accident and her mother went into a great depression. She had to survive because the only person she truly loved was her little sister Prim and if Katniss didn't bring food to the table, it is possible no one would.
The day of the Reaping comes. This is where names are drawn from the districts on who would go fight. It turns out to be Katniss's sister Prim for the girl. Katniss has to protect her. How??? Read the book to find out!
I know some people are sensitive to children killing children and if you are one of those, you shouldn't read this book. The book did remind me a little of the Running Man and Lord of the Flies but I felt this story held it's own. I highly recommend this book.
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Great Book. This one is a stay on the shelf and reread again and again.
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Good book. Interesting view on humanity. Fascinating set up and surroundings. Good.
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I was really surprised how much I enjoyed this book. I did not know it was considered a "young person's" book when I bought it, but I am now glad I did not. Otherwise I would have missed out on an excellent story. I will now start reading the next in the series; "Catching Fire". Cannot wait!
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I read this book in one night! All I could say afterwords was "Wow!" The book caught me and drug me along for a great ride! The premise of the book makes me stop and think, what would it take for our world to get to this point? Very good book, much more than my normal mindless entertainment!
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on
Excellent Story and a definite page-turner!
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Great book :) found I could not put it down and was put right into the story. Not just a young reader book. I'm glad I read it.
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A great read for teens and adults - exciting, surprising and a good story that gets you involved from the very first page. I finished this and its sequel in 2 days!
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This is my mid-teen daughter's absolutely favorite book, and series. We've had to get a second copy because the first got passed around many, many times and then disappeared.
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This is one awesome non-stop adventure! America is no more. Ruined by a war within itself, it's now called Panem; where government rules and the common folk struggle just to feed their family. What's worse, each of the 12 remaining districts is forced to watch 1 boy and 1 girl from each district fight til the death, until only 1 victor remains in The Hunger Games. It's only the beginning of the governments control over the people. The story line of 16 yr old Katniss will grab you from the start and not let go. Hang on for a rollercoaster ride 'cause this one will take you from shock to horror, to sadness, to cheering and end with an OMG! This book is truly one of the best books I have ever read, EVER!
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Reviewed by

This story is very much like The Running Man by Stephen King. It pits people against each other for public entertainment, except they are teenagers. The author pulls the story off very well however. Katniss is the main provider for her family after her father is killed in a mining accident. When the time of the reaping comes, the selection of names for the Hunger Games, she never imagines her 12 year old sisters name will be pulled, but it is. We already started out with the strong character of Katiss, but she grows even more as she takes her sisters place as a tribute. Along with her is a boy that showed her kindness as a young child. The relationship between them goes back and forth between strained and comfortable. The description of the games and the trials Katniss faces is very well written. You really felt pulled in with the character and nervous to turn the next page because you don't know what is coming! A very good read, and leaves you excited for the next book. 5 out of 5 stars.
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I LOVED this book - it reminded me of Lord of the Flies which I had to read during my high school years. It's disturbing, exciting, easy-to-read (it's considered Young Adult) and I can't believe the cliff-hanger ending. I can't wait until the sequal comes out later this year as I'm dying to find out what happens with the main characters. This might not be for everyone as it is a bit gorey, but many times I was on the edge of my seat. The last half especially, I could not put it down. I give this one 4.5 stars out of 5.
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on
I loved it!!! It was so entertaining, I read it in 2 days.
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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.
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Absolutely fantastic.
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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
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I loved it. My kids loved it. Great book.
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Review first published on my blog:

The Hunger Games is the first book in the much talked about trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It sets up a dystopian society of twelve districts controlled by the Capitol. As a constant reminder to the districts of the control they are under, the Capitol instated the Hunger Games - a barbaric competition in which two children - one male and one female - from each district compete to survive in an arena designed particularly for the event.

The games begins with 24 "tributes" or players. The games are supposed to end when only one remains alive. The sole survivor is the supposed winner of the games. This book follows the story of Katniss, the female "tribute" from District 12. The book begins with the "reaping" or selection of the competitors and follows through to the conclusion of the games.

The book and the story is a completely riveting one. I stayed up all night finishing it because I wanted to find out what happens. I felt for the characters and cringed at the horror that comprises these games. The book brings in moments in which friendship and love flourish even under these circumstances. Perhaps, as a reminder that no matter what the circumstances, there is an innermost piece of of ourselves that is untouchable.

I can't wait to read the other two books! I am not sure if I want to see the movie, however. I don't know the changes the movie would entail to keep it at the PG-13 rating for its target audience. The book tells a dark and dangerous story. I am not sure a PG-13 movie could do the book justice.
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A pulse-pounding, dystopian thriller for young adults about a 16 year old girl named Katniss who is selected to participate in a fight to the death televised on national television, called The Hunger Games. The author is really adept at keeping the tension taut all the way through the last page. I really enjoyed this, and can't wait to read the next in the series.
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Loved it. Once someone starts reading it, it will catch on like wildfire. I never watch reality shows but I enjoyed this book so much and intend to read the whole series. Great characters.
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The BEST book I have read in a really long time! I could hardly put it down!
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I can't wait to read the rest of the books. A scary look into a potential dystopian future. This book is sort of like a cross between TRON meets Survivor.

This book is quite gory at times, but not much more than kissing and holding hands. The book is violent.

Two-thumbs up and a 5-star review!
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This is definitely a PG13 due to the violence but what a riveting storyline. It's set in the future where food is a treasured commodity - that's not much different from many parts of the world today. The twist is the role the young people play in what was once North America and how their fight for survival is much like a reality show. I'm eager for the next book!
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I was "late to the party" reading this book--friends who raved about it did so a number of years ago. So I opened it in much anticipation--only to be slowly, but utterly, disappointed. I tried to like it, I really did.

The concept was interesting--twenty four kids (ages 12-18) thrown into a televised arena-like setting to endure a battle to the death with only one victor in the end. But the unfolding of the events didn't capture me at all: stylists and sponsors and mentors and pretty dresses and fingernails and all that. By the time it got to the action of The Game, I was both bored and turned off.

I also found the writing style too simple and quite juvenile. I have read much YA fiction and the good ones don't pander down to the audience. I felt this one did.

POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT: But the worst offense was a "twist" in The Games that just threw away all intrigue for me. The part of the premise that first piqued my interest was found in the official rules of The Hungar Games themselves. These were formal, well-known, decades-held and firmly established rules set down by the Capitol, involving that two kids from each of 12 districts are always chosen to participate--and, since there can be only be one winner, it was therefore a given that it would not necessarily be just strangers killing strangers; it must come down, eventually, to neighbor killing neighbor. That the heroine of the book would eventually HAVE to face her neighbor in combat, was the hook that kept me interested!! Would she have the bravery, the steel nerves, the skill? So, when late in the book this conflict was abruptly yanked away by a ridiculous (cheap! contrived! groan-worthy!) twist... well, I almost threw the book across the room. And for me there was no recovery after that.

* 1/2 One and a half stars.
reviewed The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Bk 1) on + 108 more book reviews
I'm always late to the literary party. Even when I have it together enough to buy a hot new book, I usually toss it into my giant queue of books I want to read, and I still don't get to it for a couple of years. This book, for example, was published four years ago and even the even movie has come and gone. As a fad, it is over. And still the only reason I got to it was that a friend put a copy in my hands and told me to OMG just read it already.

As an adult, I almost never read YA novels. Not as a policy, but out of taste. I broke that rule with Twilight and regretted it (how could you make a vampire book unfun? Oh, I see now). In fact, I disliked Twilight so much that I didn't even want to read The Hunger Games. But, at the insistence of my friend, I gave it a try. Needless to say, I was immediately hooked. I love that sensation of being only a few pages in and knowing you're not going to fall asleep on time until the whole thing is finished, and being happy because it is still all ahead of you.

I really liked Katniss. I liked that she was a little grumpy and withdrawn, and stubborn, and that she made mistakes, and I think liking her that much was the difference between liking the book 3 stars and liking it 4 stars. Most of what I saw as flaws with the book, like the dark and very unlikely gladiator games plot device, or the sort of uninspired prose, are probably necessities of the young adult genre. If this book were written for adults, I would expect it to be very different. So I'm not going to complain that the televised Hunger Games as an institution would never happen in real life, and that it's too heavy-handed a metaphor for social cruelty, because: young adult. If this book is too unsophisticated for you, you're reading the wrong genre.

That said, I absolutely would recommend it to teenage readers, and I kind of wish I could have read it in my youth too, so I could have been more swept away by it. But even as a jaded adult, I found myself a little inspired at the end. I may not be able to kill a squirrel for dinner, but I could stand to be a little tougher. Wow, did I just admit that a YA novel changed my life? I really liked this book.