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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Book Name: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher(s): Scholastic
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audio Book / eBook
Genre(s): Dystopian / Science Fiction / YA
Release Date: September 14, 2008

Being twenty-five, I sometimes wonder why I still read young adult novels. However, upon reading The Hunger Games, I didn’t find myself wondering. Collins’ story has a driving urgency that made it nearly impossible for me to put down; couple that with the cliff-hanger chapter endings…Well, it took me less than two days of reading around my work schedule to finish this off.

Personally, I am a big fan of dystopian fiction, and The Hunger Games has quickly become one of my favorites. Right off the bat, our main character, Katniss Everdeen, shows us what it’s like to live in District 12, the poorest of the twelve districts surrounding the grand capitol. Located in what was once North America, the region Katniss lives in is called Panem and every year the Capitol holds The Hunger Games. The games are basically a way for the Capitol to show the people of the twelve districts that they will never have freedoms…That their lives will never be their own.

Once per year, in every district, there is a day called The Reaping. On this day, the names of every boy and girl between twelve and eighteen are put into two large glass globes, and one of each gender is pulled. These two are known as the Tributes, and they are to participate in The Hunger Games. The object of the Games? To be the last Tribute alive, out of twenty-four.

Initially, the plot of the book is fairly obvious. Katniss is chosen to be the female Tribute from District 12; it is surmised that she will win, and live in riches and glory for the rest of her days. It happens that way, and it doesn’t happen that way. Katniss actually volunteers to be the female Tribute, after her younger sister, Primrose, is chosen. Katniss goes into the Games with a boy around her age named Peeta; mixed feelings about having to kill someone from her own district nearly overwhelm Katniss, as does a younger girl from District 11 who looks like Prim.

As I flew through the story, I stopped thinking of it as a young adult novel. While there is some romance between Katniss and Peeta, it’s very downplayed. This is mostly because Katniss has no idea what she feels for him, and there’s a boy back home, and what if she has to kill him, and… You see, Katniss struggles with showing her emotions. While very good at hiding them, it takes forever before she seems to actually open up… Once she does, though, the reader knows that she still has no idea what she’s really feeling; being an actress is skill that Katniss acquires while in the Games.

At the end of the novel, I was glad for the outcome, though I did throw the book away from me in disgust at something the Capitol does. I suppose that’s normal; it’s obvious that we’re supposed hate the Capitol, and so they do despicable things in order to make that easier for us. I definitely felt, at the end, that there was more to this story that was waiting to be told; it doesn’t wrap up all nice and neat. I’m looking forward to reading, and reviewing, Catching Fire within the next few days.

All in all, I felt that this was a great book. I didn’t feel that it was so much for young adults; I think that the theme of dystopia and death may be a bit much for younger readers to handle. However, I could be wrong! The themes of family and inner strength really make this a novel about hope; Katniss never loses her hope, even when circumstances seem grim. I think that lesson, of persevering when times are tough, is something that we could all learn from.



  1. Moonshine says:

    Good article, thanks Kit. However, I have to disagree – this is very much ‘dystopia-light’. There isn’t much backstory, not enough exposition as to the world to make it a non-YA book. It’s very black and white in its morality, something fairly unique to YA fiction as well.

    I thought the third book was a poor send off to a very good first two books. It was too forced, too convenient. The scenes in the capital city seemed very off key, jarring, not as well described as the Hunger Games themselves.
    The first book, however, is indeed excellent, and I’d recommend the series to all..

  2. Khaldun says:

    @Moonshine: I’m not sure that things being fairly black and white in its morality is unique to YA fiction. Sure, it is more common there (MUCH more common) but I still see too many fantasy novels nowadays that are black and white.

    I agree that it is dystopia-light. It doesn’t feel as completely well developed as it could be, but that is because the YA genre seems to demand action-packed, dialogue fueled stories rather than intricate world building. I didn’t read past the first book, but I did enjoy it.

    Thanks for the article, Kit!

  3. Ken says:

    I just finished with Mockingjay recently and I agree with Moonshine that the third is a let down. There was so much going for it in the first book but after that it deteriorates.

    Thanks Kit for your article and I’m waiting for your review of the third book and see if you feel the same way as I do.

  4. ibeeeg says:

    I read all three books, and greatly enjoyed Hunger Games. I am not understanding, Kit, what age level book do you think this one fits? Middle-grade? YA? Adults? For me, this book is very much in line for a YA read, a younger YA audience such as age 12-15. Not that anyone older cannot enjoy the book; as I stated, I did. Honestly, I did not think the theme of dystopia and death was too terrible; yes, it is terrible concept but the writing of it was not too terribly overwhelming. Now, of course, as with every book, this book will not be for everybody regardless of age.

    Anyway, I did think Hunger Games did a decent job setting up the world; the politics, the turmoil, the horrors the people had to withstand. I also felt the characters were compelling. I look forward to your review of Catching Fire, and Mockingjay (If you read it) to see if you will think the same of those books as I.

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