Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

by on September 15, 2011

in book reviews, Entertainment

Review of The Hunger Games

'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games has been one of the most exciting books I’ve read in a long time.  For the first time in I don’t know how long, I couldn’t get enough of a story.  Rather than waiting for free time to settle down with The Hunger Games, I made the time to read my book every chance I got.  I became a crazed fan of Katniss!  I couldn’t wait to see how the present scene would pan out into the next.  I truly had to know.

That’s how riveting this book was, and believe me, having been so jaded with seeing the same themes in every medium over and over, this is saying a lot.  As I read on, I then became very excited about sharing this book review of The Hunger Games with you.

In short:  I found The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins to be a refreshing and entertaining story that both depressed and excited me with anticipation and hope.  All at once.  That’s confusing and entertaining as far as I’m concerned.  I’ve never enjoyed being so depressed before.  That’s a first!

The Hunger Games on Amazon

Movie Spoilers Warning

This book is being made into a major motion picture and this review talks about the set up of the story within The Hunger Games.  Hence, this may create movie spoilers for those of you who plug your ears and go “na na na” to avoid hearing anything.  (Yea, I actually know someone like that.  Don’t ask.)

'The Hunger Games' movie poster

And suddenly, this movie poster of the mockingjay pin makes so much perfect sense.

As a quick tidbit, the upcoming major motion picture stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence, in a first leading role of her career, will be singing “Rue’s Lullaby” on the soundtrack.  Fans know what I’m talking about.), Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch.  (How perfect is that casting?)  Other cast includes Amandla Stenberg as Rue, Alexander Ludwig as Cato (I was expecting bigger, but heck, I’ll take it.) and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna.  (Lenny is going to have to really sell that one for me to accept that casting.)

Book Review:  About The Hunger Games

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic and dystopian society where the United States, through various events, has become what’s referred to as the 12 districts of Panem.    We follow 16-year-old Katniss from District Twelve and the unlikely route she takes to become part of Panem’s Hunger Games.

Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth in 'The Hunger Games' Image via Lionsgate

(Above, Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss and Liam Hemsworth plays Gale.)

It’s an emotionally gripping and depressing world that author Suzanne Collins has painted here.  Each page brings hope and hopelessness all at once.  The story keeps you on edge, rooting, worrying and fretting for our main character, Katniss.

In the history of this world, there was a war and the district known as the Central District, or Capitol, had won.  They control the other 12 districts.  But that war brought a price.  An ugly price that must be paid for each year by the 12 losing districts.  The cruel Central District, the lap of luxury, controls the power of Panem and in District Twelve where Katniss lives, they struggle for meager food and water supplies.  A TV is the height of most denizens existence in this district as mere things as fresh bread and commodities you and I take for granted don’t exist for these coal-mining citizens.  (Each district toils in a separate industry.)

To survive in this district, Katniss has to hunt for anything that resembles meat or fresh fruit.  Fresh bread is a luxury, not a staple.  It’s illegal, punishable by death to hunt.

Josh Hutcherson in 'The Hunger Games' Image via distributor Lionsgate

(Josh Hutcherson as Peeta)

We meet Katniss on the day of the Hunger Games, where “the lottery” is drawn to choose one child between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age, of each gender from each district as a “tribute.”  It’s the day that everyone dresses up and looks their best, preparing for the worst as they head to the square where the Hunger Games lottery, the reaping, is held, televised for all to see.  And it’s a requirement of all citizens to watch the games.

The children’s names are put into a drawing with a ticket.  1 ticket at age 12, two tickets at age 13 and so on until they reach 18.  But if you want extra stipends from Capitol each year, you can always ask for more entries for your child into the games.   Katniss’ name will be in the drawing with 20 tickets.  Her sister, Prim, having just turned 12 this year, will have a solitary ticket in the bin, one of thousands to be chosen from.

But things get ugly because the unexpected happens and Katniss finds herself a participant in the games.

You see, this is unheard of because the tributes are put into a televised contest between all the tributes from all the districts, in a battle to the death.  In the end, there can be only one who survives.  And that winner will bring fame and good fortune to their district for a year. But what a horrible price to pay.

The Horror of The Situation Is Laced With Hope, Yet…

And it’s from there that I read in horror how these 24 children are forced, in a televised, reality TV program, to kill each other by whatever means necessary in The Hunger Games.  All to evidence the control that Capitol has over them all.

It’s a somber, depressing world that the reader finds themselves in.  And yet, you can’t help but be caught up in the grandeur or somberness of the situation.  The book elicits a confusing range of emotions and sucks you right in.

You follow Katliss through the entire process of volunteering, being prepared for and participating in the games.  It’s a great read, even if you’re opposed to the entire principal.  You follow her every thought through most deeds and events of the Hunger Games and you come away with the idea of how, “matter of fact” she approaches her situations.  There’s no remorse or “what if” thinking.  The games are what they are.

And now that she’s in The Hunger Games, she has to use her best talents to survive as best she can in the games.

There are wonderful and frightful twists and turns throughout the book.  At times you grimace with Katniss and at other times, you’re screaming in your head for something to happen to help Katniss.

My saying that I liked this book would be an understatement.  And I’m glad it’s a trilogy because now my time in that world with all it’s political twists and turns can last just a while longer.  At least this time, I can maybe, more calmly read through the 2nd and 3rd books.

I have give a kudos and a thank you to Suzanne Collins for creating and writing The Hunger Games.

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A quick little bonus:

If you’re a fan and haven’t heard of the movie, or know about the movie but haven’t seen it yet, here’s the movie trailer for The Hunger Games (Dang, it all makes such perfect sense now.):

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