Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review of THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

As a writer, I find that when I pick up a novel, my reading is much more critical than it used to be. I find myself checking to make sure threads are resolved, that character motivation feels plausible and interesting, that the plot is progressing in a logical and well-paced manner, and so on.

Every once in a while, I run across a book that catches me up in the story, making me forget to check those things.

And even more rarely--every once in a blue moon, I'll find a book that literally knocks the wind out of me. That makes me gasp and laugh and cry. That makes me both excited to be an author and lamenting that I didn't write it.

I finished reading one of those books last night.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. A young adult novel set in a dystopic future, where there is no more North America--only a place called Panem, with its gorgeous capitol and twelve outlying districts. Back in the day, the districts gathered together and rebelled against the capitol. The capitol defeated them soundly, even oblitering what used to be the 13th district.

Now, as part of the peace treaty terms, every year each district must draw the names of one boy and one girl, between the ages 12 and 18, to participate in a yearly event called the Hunger Games--a fully televized, commercialized fight to the death held in a massive terrained arena, to see which person will be left standing. That person will be lavished with prized goodies and food, as will their district.

The heroine, Katniss, is horrified when her younger sister's name is drawn, so she steps forward to take her place as the female candidate (called "tributes") from district 12, which hasn't had a winner in thirty years. A skilled hunter used to living off the land, Katniss will use her skills and fight to hopefully survive the Hunger Games.

Okay, I admit, the cover didn't do too much for me at first (once you read the story, the symbolism makes perfect sense). I'd actually bought the book a couple of months ago and hadn't cracked it open yet. But I'd heard such praise for this story that I finally couldn't resist and started reading it on Monday night. And once I picked it up, it was magnetic. Compelling. Riveting.

Basically, un-put-downable.

The author is so deft at weaving a story that doesn't overwhelm you with tedious worldbuilding details or slow pacing, but is still rich and lush in vivid details that suck you in. And the story, the characters--where to start? I'm so tongue-tied, I don't even know how to gush properly. LOL. It's a love story. A mystery. An action tale of survival. A cautionary warning of the effects of war on children, on families.

I loved reading about the flawed heroine...I felt like she was so tangible and fascinating. And the other main character in the story, a guy named Peeta who is the male tribute from district 12, is just as amazing to me. He's ambiguous, charming, and so realistic.

In the end, the best way to sum up my pleasure with this book is to say I wish I had enough money to buy a copy for everyone I know. LOL. Also, I'm requiring this as reading for my children--I believe they'll love it, too. This is one that will remain on my keeper shelf.

Oh, and I just found out there's a sequel coming out--YAY! I'm happy to hear that, because it ended with some unresolved issues.

So, has anyone else read The Hunger Games? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Or, have you recently read a story that just blew them away? Do share--I'm always looking for new recommendations!!


  1. That is so my kind of book. I must read it. Must.

  2. Did you just say you were tongue tied? Wow-that takes a lot--must go read.

  3. I know, ROFL! It takes a lot to make me tongue-tied. :D

    You guys really, REALLY have to read it.

  4. I read this book right before the New Year and you are right it literally is unput-downable. I lost a nights sleep reading this book and it was totally worth it. My only complaint is that the ending was kind of abrupt, but like you said that is probably because of the sequel (I just saw yesterday that it is coming out in Sept. and already available for pre-order).

  5. I haven't yet read this book, Rhonda, but after reading your glowing review, I definitely will!

  6. Kate, I agree--I felt the ending was abrupt, it was a great comfort to find out there's a sequel coming out. LOL! I'm glad someone else loved it, too!!

    Cara, you have to. You REALLY have to!!

  7. I really enjoyed this book, but like you said, the end was abrupt. I hated that, but I'm that kind of reader. I like things to wrap up - even if there's going to be a sequel. All in all, though, I'm happy to recommend this book. It's worth the minor irritation, and I can't wait for the next book to come out.


  8. Agreed on all the gushing. I loved this book. The one difference that I have with the comments is...why a sequel? I loved Rocky too, and sequels did it no favors. Hope I'm wrong, and yes, I'll be reading it anyway. :)

  9. Ok, I spent 70 bucks at Borders before I left... now I need to go back. LOL

  10. Hey guys! I've read this series by rick Riordan called the Percy Jackson series! it was great! Greek gods, hell hounds, and oh yeah, Medusa! So read it! The title of the first book is the lighting thief! IT ROCKS!