Review: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins
Title: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Released: July 2010 (first published October 2008)
Genre(s): YA, science fiction, dystopia
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.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, 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 dead 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 will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
— Cover Critique —
Unfortunately, I think part of the reason why I wasn’t interested in the series for so long was because of the cover. They just look so much different than what I usually read: contemporary, historical fiction, and paranormal/fantasy. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though – I do appreciate how the books aren’t marketed as “boy/girl books” … just books. Like it should be!
— Expectations —
I resisted reading The Hunger Games for a long time. Why? Well, I was determined that dystopian fiction wasn’t for me and I didn’t want to buy into the hype. But after two of my good friends read the series I began to second-guess myself. They loved the books and, well, we do have pretty similar tastes. However, I think the movie actually sold me on giving the first book a try. I remember seeing the trailer and going “WOW that looks AWESOME!”. So I eventually purchased the paperback version of The Hunger Games, and guess what? I loved it!
— Review —
At first, I was still a little skeptical. I mean, the idea of the games sounded interesting… in a really creepy and disturbing way. But I just wasn’t sure if I could handle reading a book where I know a lot of the characters are going to have to die by the end. This all changed pretty quickly though as I became enthralled with the story and world Collins had created.
I first fell in love with the characters, especially Katniss. I love how strong, determined and sarcastic she is! It’s not often that you see a fairly unapologetic heroine like Katniss.I also really appreciated that while romance is present in the book, she isn’t all consumed by it, like many female characters often are in YA fiction. I also came to ADORE Cinna and Rue. Oh, and spoiler ahead so skip to the next paragraph if you haven’t read the book. I honestly didn’t think this book would make me cry. But Rue stole my heart. She was a beautiful character and I felt destroyed when she died! I was so angry at the rules of the game. I think I actually asked out loud “WHY?!” and clenched my hands in anger. The way Katniss sent her off was just perfect. (Sidenote: I didn’t really imagine her the way the movie is portraying her, but I’m sure I’ll fall in love with the character all over again.).
Then, as the story progressed further I began to understand what y’all keep talking about when you say “world building” in regards to dystopian fiction. I must admit I kind of rolled my eyes when I kept seeing that phrase popping up everywhere, but you really don’t get what people mean until you read a book that actually does it. I was enthralled with the new rules and morals, the reformation of society, the crazy lifestyles of the elite and the animals the Capital created. I hope this continues throughout the series because I loved learning about all these little details!
While the book was very exciting – I was literally screaming and shaking at the book at some parts and had to put it down a few times – I did feel the ending was a bit anti-climactic. I think the book could have been cut off a bit earlier for greater suspense, but other than that I LOVED The Hunger Games.
I’m also a geek and totally looking forward to reading academic essays on the various ways the Hunger Games can be understood as social commentary on contemporary issues such as inequality, government and the media. See, I told you I’m geeky!
Have you been hesitant in trying a book because of the hype surrounding it? Were you right there reading The Hunger Games when it first released, or are you late to the party like me? Who has tickets to the midnight showing?