Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins
Scholastic, Inc.
September 2008
384pp

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

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, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival.

The Short of It:

Well paced. Very readable. Vivid characters. Vaguely familiar.

The Rest of It:

This is where I become unpopular.

After hearing all of the hype over this book, I expected great things, but what I got was good, but not great. I know, the planet has come to a grinding halt and birds have stopped singing everywhere!! Here’s the deal, I am a 40-something female and I watched a lot of movies in my youth, but as I was reading,  I couldn’t help but compare this book to The Running Man and Logan’s Run. I’m not saying that The Hunger Games is exactly like these two movies, but the whole game show aspect…THAT, that to me was very similar. In the case of Logan’s Run, age is a factor too. Much like in The Hunger Games. Hasn’t anyone else noticed the similarities? If not, watch the movies and get back to me. Actually, The Running Man was a story by Richard Bachman (Stephen King) which was later made into a movie.

However…

Did I enjoy the book? I did. I liked Katniss a lot. It was nice to see a young girl, with a good head on her shoulders. One who is a bit insecure yet quite capable at the same time. I thought some of the other characters were quite memorable as well. Who wouldn’t love Rue? Oh, and Haymitch was quite interesting. Funny at times, but serious when he had to be. I’m not quite sure how I feel about Peeta and his affection for Katniss though.

I can see why this book appeals to all different age groups even though it’s geared towards the young adult set. I am looking forward to the next book in the series, Catching Fire which came out this past September. The university that I work for was considering The Hunger Games for their Freshman Common Reading book for 2010, but they decided to go with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I missed the meeting though so I can’t tell you why!

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30 thoughts on “Review: The Hunger Games”

  1. I notice quite a few YA books are similar to adult books EXCEPT for having teen protagonists going through the same thing, and I think that definitely adds an interesting dimension – the whole coming of age thing, the young love thing, etc. I definitely think it makes it worth reading in spite of any plot similarities.

    P.S. Please let me know if you would like a Team Gale button for your blog! :–)

  2. I agree with you! I loved it while I was reading it and could not put it down, but at the end, it didn’t resonate on any levels for me. I thought it was good but not great. I did, however, think Catching Fire was brilliant, and after reading it, I reassessed my view of The Hunger Games because it subtly sets up so many fantastic plotlines in Catching Fire. Read Catching Fire; I’m curious to see if our opinions continue to match!

  3. So good to know! This is the first I’ve heard anyone mention that this was not an entirely original idea. I think I would have a problem with that since I’m of a certain age and remember those movies and the Bach book.

  4. I did enjoy it, but I also felt that there was something that didn’t make it one of my favorites. Can’t argue with its popularity– I think the violence made me uncomfortable, but I was still riveted.

  5. I really enjoyed the reading experience of this book and agree that the pacing is great and it keeps you interested, but I think you’ve had dystopia courtesy of Margaret Atwood, it’s hard to be blown away by much else. Also important to remember the audience for whom the book is intended and the likelihood that they will be unfamiliar with similar stories. I thought Collins did a really nice job w/ internal conflict surrounding survival/pleasing the audience to stay alive vs. Katniss’s true desires, and the reality show aspect was interesting.

    1. I am with you on the Atwood comment and as you said, I wasn’t blown away with it but it was very enjoyable even though it was a bit familiar to me. I was pleased with some of the mechanics of the game… such as broadcasting the dead into the night’s sky. The visual of that stayed with me. I thought the parachutes were sort of fun too.

  6. I listened to it with my kids, so I think I experienced it through their eyes just as much as mine. There have been various versions of this story told over and over again. Many have said they prefer the more brutal “Battle Royale” to this one. But we enjoyed the package…liked the characters, the pacing and the evil Capital! We really liked Catching Fire too. It’s a great way to make commuting and errand-running alot of fun!

  7. I really enjoyed this book, the second as well. I hate when there’s a lot of hype about a book and then I read it and wonder what all the hype was about. I guess, that just happens to everyone. I haven’t watched either movie, so i’m not sure about the similarities.

    Glad you liked the characters. I agree with you on that one.

    Happy Reading! Maybe, you’ll like the second book better.

  8. Soylent Green is made of people!! Oh, wait.. wrong movie.. LOL

    I remember Logan’s Run. They died at age 30, I think (?)

    I really liked The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Can’t wait for book 3. I guess I’m just really immature, LOL.

    1. Hahaha. Don’t forget the famous Twlight Zone episode where To Serve Man is actually a cookbook. That has nothing to do with Hunger Games but it piggy backs your Soylent Green comment.

  9. I really enjoyed both this and Catching Fire, but I do have to agree with the premise not being terribly original. I liked what Collins did with it, though, so I really wasn’t all that bothered by that, and I really liked the characters.

  10. Thank you thank you thank you! I read this over the past weekend and kind of felt the same way you did. I think I heard so much about it that I expected MORE and so I was a bit disappointed. I surely LIKED it but I didn’t fall in love with it like so many others seem to have. But I bet if I was a teenage girl, I would probably have loved it. Well done … my review is probably going to be along the same lines as you.

  11. I just got a copy of this from the library so I scanned your review. I will be back to read “the rest of it “when I am done with the book. I am not a fan of futuristic books but I am wanting to see what the hype about this book is all about . I’ve read The Curious Incident of the dog in the night- time, and it is a wonderful book. I think it’s a good book to choose for a freshman common reading book. I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t read it, but It forces you to look at life from a person’s perspective who is different than others.

  12. I think part of the reason I liked it so much was because I love stories like Logan’s Run, and I agree that there are similar elements. The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist has some elements that are like Logan’s Run too.

  13. I liked the first half, where she built her world, but the whole Hunger Games was waaaaaaaaaaay too long for me (gee, kinda like Moby Dick…can you tell I like books that get to the point?).

    And just join Team Gale…you know you want to. 😀

  14. I only read enough of your review to see that you liked it. I’m picking up the audio of Hunger Games from the library tomorrow so I’ll finally be in the club. 🙂

  15. Well, I haven’t seen those movie but I understand where you’re coming from. I really enjoy this series and will be curious to see what you think of the 2nd installment!

  16. I’m wondering if I will feel the same. I’m a bit older than you, but your comparisons are interesting. Haven’t got around to reading it yet. You’re one of the few who hasn’t heard the choir of angels singing. I appreciate your candor. LOL

  17. I Love these books im on my 3rd time reading them, my friends say im opsessed because i compair every thing to the books but i also live by woods and cant help thing whats beond them. I dont think older people should read the books cuz they dont really relate to them

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