Jul 10, 2009

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games is a young adult novel set in the future after the collapse of the world and its rebuilding by The Capitol. To maintain order, The Capitol hosts The Hunger Games each year in which 2 tributes--a boy and a girl--are chosen from each of the 12 districts to compete to the death. Once all other tributes have died in the arena, the winner is set for life in terms of food--in a world without much food--position, money, etc.

"My quarters are larger than our entire house back home. . . . When you step out on a mat, heaters come on that blow-dry your body. Instead of struggling with the knots in my wet hair, I merely place my hand on a box that sends a current through my scalp, untangling, parting, and dying my hair almost instantly. It floats down around my shoulders in a glossy curtain." (Page 75)

The heroine of this novel, Katniss Everdeen steps up and takes the place of her sister. She and her fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark, are sent to The Capitol with their mentor and the last member from District 12 to win The Hunger Games, Haymitch. Once in The Capitol, Katniss and Peeta are groomed, presented, prepped, and molded to meet the television standards for The Hunger Games. The dynamic between these two tributes shifts throughout the novel, and in some case, like an undercurrent, it tips the plot on its ear.

"And just as the knife cuts through, I shove the end of the branch as far away from me as I can. It crashes down through the lower branches, snagging temporarily on a few but then twisting free until it smashes with a thud on the ground. The nest bursts open like an egg, and a furious swarm of tracker jackers takes to the air." (Page 190)

Collins does an excellent job developing these young teens and staying true to the normal responses teens could have in this surreal world she creates. Katniss is a brave, but lonely girl striving to be noble, while Peeta struggles to remain the sweet boy next door and stay alive amidst the brutality of The Hunger Games. Collins' characters are well-developed, and readers will enjoy the outrageous antics of the drunken Haymitch, the superficial Effie Trinket, and others.

The Hunger Games is an amazing look at a post-apocalyptic world through the eyes of teenagers. Collins is a masterful young adult novelist, and readers will be quickly absorbed into the world she creates. Readers will grit their teeth, bite their nails, and shake their heads as Katniss and Peeta struggle to survive amidst determined, skilled tributes from the 11 other districts.

Collins goes beyond the entertainment factor of most young adult novels to depict real-life situations in which young love buds and confuses, alliances are made, lies are told, and truth surfaces when characters least expect it. The Hunger Games is not only for teens, but also adults, though parents should be warned there is violence and innuendo.

Thankfully, readers won't have to wait too long for the sequel, Catching Fire, which comes out in September 2009.

Also reviewed by:
Devourer of Books
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'
My Friend Amy
Diary of an Eccentric
Beth Fish Reads
Muse Book Reviews


Veens said...

I have read so many good reviews of this book! I am hoping to get my hands on this one :)

Anonymous said...

I still haven't read this book and I'm planning to read it when all the books in the series are published. There are 3 right? Glad you liked it though :)

Sandy Nawrot said...

This was BY FAR the best YA book I've read this year. The kids and I listened to it on audio in the car, and we were all mesmerized. We cannot stand waiting for the next book in the series, and are also quite excited about the movie coming out. We have had many a debate on who should play Katniss!

Serena said...

Veens: I loved this book. I hope to have a companion article about this book in the examiner today as well.

Violetcrush: I couldn't wait for all 3; I had to see what the rave reviews were talking about.

Sandy: We "read" most of this book in the car on our car ride up to PA for camping. It was riveting...I didn't want to get out of the car to pump gas or stop at rest areas.

Anna said...

Glad to see you enjoyed it, too. I'm really looking forward to our book club discussion this weekend. I assume your hubby finished it, too?

Diary of an Eccentric

Amanda said...

Such a wonderful book! I don't know how you listened to this on audio. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down.

bermudaonion said...

I'm beginning to think I'm going to be the very last person in the world to read this book. I got an autographed copy of Catching Fire at BEA, so I bought this in the airport on the way out of time and haven't had a chance to read it yet!

Serena said...

Anna: Hubby and I finished it on audio. I can't wait for Book Club.

Amanda: Audio was fantastic. The narrator was awesome.

Bermudaonion: You better get reading.

Tricia said...

I just pre-ordered Catching Fire yesterday. I might need to re-read this one before it comes out. I loved it!

Serena said...

Tricia: I think now that I have an Amazon GC burning a hole in my pocket, I may just have to pre-order Catching Fire!

naida said...

I've heard good things about this book, great review!

Karen said...

I have heard nothing but good things about this book. I have stayed away from it so far only because I thought it might be a bit "heavy" in terms of content matter but people have told me to give it a go - so I might just have to do that!

Jenners said...

These kind of weird premises really appeal to me. I might just have to check this out. It reminds me a little bit of a Stephen King story "The Long Walk" (I think?) that was about a "walk to the death" with different kids. You basically walked until you dropped and the last one standing was taken care of for life (if I remember correctly). I really loved that story. Freaked me out.

Amy said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Serena!

Julie P. said...

Loved this book. I can't recommend it enough!

Iliana said...

I Must Read This! I have yet to read a negative review and I want to find out for myself what I'm missing :)

Serena said...

Naida: I kept hearing good things about this book as well, so when the book club selected it, I was excited.

Karen: The subject matter is heavy in some places, but it is definitely fast moving.

Jenners: I have not read this Stephen King story, but it does sound similar. I think you'd really like this novel.

Amy: I really did enjoy this novel.

Julie: I agree.

Iliana: You should read it. You are missing a fantastic book.

Anonymous said...

i can't wait until september so i can read this one! i enjoyed the first book immensely--i read it on a blogger's suggestion!

Anonymous said...

*i meant to say the NEXT one. duh* :)

Serena said...

I knew what you meant though. I've already pre-ordered my copy of Catching Fire.

Teddyree said...

Great review, I ordered this one based on the many rave reviews so it's patiently waiting for me in the next week or so!

Anonymous said...

So glad you enjoyed it! I have this one on its way to me -- can't wait to read it! Based on all the great reviews, I think I'm going to like it... and then, thankfully, I'll have a short wait for the sequel :)

EJ said...

I read The Hunger Games in just one sitting. I really enjoyed the first book that I cannot wait to read the second one, which I did. Waiting for the third book, Mockingjay feels like forever!