Review: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins

Like the gladiators of ancient Rome, the youth of post apocalyptic North America are put face to face in a ‘fight to the death’ game called The Hunger Games. Blood, complicated strategies, alliances, betrayal, and death are expected to play out, all with the nation watching on live television–twenty four children between the ages of 12-18 go into the games but only one will emerge victorious.

The Hunger Games is the first in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. In this post apocalyptic/dystopian society, there are 12 Districts. The 12 Districts are ruled by the The Capitol. The tyrannical Capitol keeps the Districts in check by forcing them to send one boy and one girl to participate in the annual Games. In the upper-class Districts, families pray for the honor of having their child selected for the Games….but in the ghettos of District 12, families know if their child is picked from the lottery, they are sending a lamb to slaughter.

Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen lives in the slums of District 12. Her father is dead, killed by a mine blast, and her mother is rendered utterly useless after her father dies. Katniss and her sister Primrose (Prim) are forced to fend for themselves. Prim is too young so Katniss takes up the responsibility of putting food on the table. But in District 12, there is little to no food–people are starving and dying in the streets. Katniss must become a ruthless hunter, forager, and survivor if her family is to last…

Each child is required to have their name entered into the raffle once for every year they are of age. To earn extra food, children can ‘buy’ grain by casting their name into the Hunger Games lottery. Katniss’s name is in the lottery twenty times this year….and her sister Prim, only once since she just turned twelve. The odds of Prim getting chosen for the Games is slim to none–on the Hunger Games Day, the unthinkable happens–Prim’s name is called.

Katniss quickly volunteers to take her place as girl tribute….Peeta Mellark is chosen as boy tribute. When they arrive at the Capitol they meet their team of coaches who will help then devise a strategy, though no one expects District 12 to do much of anything except die on the first day….but when their coach gets a glimpse of their talents and fierce spirits he begins to hope….

And so The Hunger Games begin. Katniss, Peeta, and the other contestants are set loose in the arena–which is basically a giant forrest–they have to forage their way through the Games–this is the ultimate survival challenge. This book makes the TV show Survivor look like kids play!

Katniss feels an affection toward Peeta but in the back of her mind, she knows that they are against each other in the battle to survive….there can only be one winner. She just hopes someone else kills Peeta so she doesn’t have to. Yet she can’t help but wonder about him….

In this race to survive the resolve, strength, and talents of all tributes will be put to the test. Katniss is at an advantage over many of the other tributes….she is a hunter and a talented one at that. She is use to making due with little resources. She is resourceful, strong, cunning, and cleaver but will she have the resolve to kill her competition? Will she be able to kill Peeta when and if the time comes? There can only be one winner….

May the odds be ever in your favor…..

I have to admit, I enjoyed this book MUCH more than I thought I would. Normally I am not a huge dystopian/post-apocalyptic literature fan but I have heard such great things about the series as a whole I just HAD to give it a go. I think one of the things I liked best about this book was the strong female character in our heroine–Katniss.

Dystopian lit often challenges social norms, expectations, and ideals–Collins certainly did that with Katniss. Katniss’s character is almost cold hearted–almost. She is strong, independent and has no desire to marry or have children, though she loves her sister and shows sympathy toward Prim, Peeta, and her friend Rue. She is clearly capable of love/affection but it does not define her.

Katniss’s greatest downfall will be her ability to show emotion. She has a hard time expressing herself and articulating her feelings. Her strengths will also be her downfall….while she can kill an animal with a strategically placed arrow….she cannot express herself as she fears it will show weakness….in Katniss’s mind emotion equals weakness.

I think Katniss is an important role model and figure in literature….especially for young female readers. She does everything herself…she is the superior hunter not just at home but in the Games as well. She is able to detach herself from overwhelming emotions and make logical, clear decisions which is an important part of winning the Games. She is the hero without question. She eventually wins the crowd, and she shows heart and strength. Katniss is not rescued by a man, in fact she saves Peeta more often than not.

Peeta is a bread baker…a far cry from the hunter and survivor that the Games hope for in a boy tribute. He has no distinguishable talent but he is honorable, brave, and compassionate but not to the point of weakness which the crowd loves. He is personable and easily wins the admiration of the viewers….but that traits don’t put him in any advantage in the Games once they begin.

The Hunger Games has a very unique story line. I really liked the concept of the Games, it definitely had a very ‘gladiator-ish’ feel to it which was exciting. There was romance and lots of heart pounding action. The dystopian feel didn’t over power the book (which I appreciated)….the dystopia feel was more of a backdrop than the focus of the book which I found enjoyable.

If you haven’t read the Hunger Games yet, you are missing an exciting and unique experience. Pick it up….if you dare and as the odds of you liking it are ever in your favor….

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins 

  • Hardcover, 374 pages
  • Published October 1st 2008 by Scholastic, Inc. (first published September 14th 2008)
  • ISBN 0439023483 (ISBN13: 9780439023481)

This book counts toward: The Dystopia Reading Challenge

Recommendation: 4 out of 5 (an exciting survivor-ish tale)

Genre: YA, dystopian literature, post-apocalyptic literature, speculative fiction

Memorable lines/quotes: 

As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve (52)

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9 Comments

  1. Great review – sounds like quite a book.

    Reply
  2. Enjoy Catching Fire ..so good! I still gotta read Mockingjay. 😀

    Reply
    • I got the set for Xmas this year and I am SOOOOO thankful because I can read them all in one sitting! I hate when I have to go out hunting for the next book in the series. I am doing that right now with Game of Thrones…I have all the books except Book 2 and the newest one (Book 5) so I’ve been searching book stores high and low here in my hometown (it’s small only 3 bookstores!!!) looking for Book 2…I finally broke down and ordered it from BN today LOL :). Anyway, I can’t wait to get home tonight and continue reading Catching Fire 🙂

      Reply
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