17 July 2009

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

North America, sometime in the future. Environmental deterioration has lead to political upheaval, reorganization, a new country, and new laws.

Life in the Seam is difficult, and sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen does what she can to feed and protect her family, including volunteering to substitute for her sister in the annual Hunger Games. Each of the twelve districts of Panem, in what used to be called North America, must send one boy and one girl as tribute to the games. This televised show is no joke: Only one child can remain alive at the end.

Taking the kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch—this is the Capitol's way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion. (p. 18)

District 12, Katniss's home, never wins. The mining area is too poor to muster up decent sponsors, and the principal trainer is almost always drunk. Still Katniss and Peeta Mellark must have hope that one of them will be only the second victor from their district in almost seventy-five years. Will either of them have what it takes to stay alive? And what will happen if they have to fight each other?

The Hunger Games deserves all the attention it has garnered. The post-disaster world that Katniss inhabits is easy to envision, and the plastic, show-business quality of the mortal games is reminiscent of what has passed for human entertainment from the gladiators to Survivor.

As in real life, the people who live in Panem are not easily classified, are not necessarily friend or foe. Along with Katniss, we must assess other people's words and deeds and decide who can be trusted. It is difficult to turn away from Katniss as she trains for the game, courts sponsors, and then attempts to find a path through the physical and mental demands of the arena. Players not only must kill or face death themselves but must remember to please the viewing audience, the Gamemakers, and any potential sponsor. With so much to keep your interest, you'll want to read the book in a single sitting.

The novel is wonderfully constructed, moving between action and description, between present and past. Although we are fairly sure of the ultimate outcome, we cannot predict how the players will reach that end and just how the Gamemakers will react to the way in which the victor wins the game.

The unabridged Audiobook (Scholastic Audio) was wonderfully read by Carolyn McCormick, whose pacing and inflections made the story come alive. Whether you read it in print or listen to the audio, I highly recommend this young adult futuristic novel to both teens and adults.

The Hunger Games has won several awards, including the Kirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice and a Horn Book Fanfare. For the full list and to learn more about Suzanne Collins, visit the author's website.

Published by Scholastic, 2008
ISBN-13: 9780439023481
Challenges: What's in a Name, Support Your Library, 999, 100+
YTD: 56
Rating: A


Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 7/17/09, 8:10 AM  

I'm glad you liked it! It's so good. Now quickly, on to Catching Fire.

Julie P. 7/17/09, 8:36 AM  

I loved it too! Great review.

bermudaonion 7/17/09, 8:57 AM  

I think I'm going to be the last person in the world to read this. I bought it in the airport on my way home from BEA since I scored an autographed copy of Catching Fire there.

Stephanie 7/17/09, 9:16 AM  

Great review! I read it and will probably be posting my review next week (and bringing Catching Fire with me on vacation)!

Sandy Nawrot 7/17/09, 10:05 AM  

I listened to the audio of this book with the kids, and we were all entranced. I am hoping that when Catching Fire comes out, the audio does as well. This book will definitely make some sort of top read of 2009 for us.

christina 7/17/09, 10:16 AM  

Oh my gosh, wasn't this novel just purely amazing? I just read it last week and cannot believe that I waited that long and let it sit on my shelf!

Unknown 7/17/09, 10:59 AM  

I'm so pleased that you enjoyed this as much as I did. I hope Catching Fire lives up to expectations!

Jenners 7/17/09, 11:14 AM  

I've been seeing reviews on this around the blog world and the premise is just so intriguing. I love futuristic novels like these (reminds me of the Stephen King story "The Long Walk"). I'll going to have to check it out!

Dara 7/17/09, 11:20 AM  

I am in the middle of this book and I really enjoy it so far.

Whitney 7/17/09, 11:26 AM  

I've heard a lot of good things about this book, I think I'll have to read it now.

Anna 7/17/09, 1:58 PM  

I enjoyed this one, too, and can't wait for the next one. Great review!

Diary of an Eccentric

Anonymous,  7/17/09, 2:04 PM  

This book is already on my list, but your review has made me want to get to it even faster!

Kailana 7/17/09, 2:05 PM  

I read this, but still haven't reviewed it! Really must remedy that!

Literary Feline 7/17/09, 5:26 PM  

I'm looking forward to reading this one. I've heard such great things about it. Great review, Beth!

Lenore Appelhans 7/17/09, 5:32 PM  

YAY! So glad you jumped on The Hunger Games bandwagon. At last - a book that deserves a rabid following.

Thoughts of Joy 7/17/09, 5:38 PM  

Wasn't this just great? Can't wait for Catching Fire!

Kim 7/17/09, 5:49 PM  

My daughter loved this book, she spent an evening telling us all about it, so much so she convinced my 15 year old son to read it. She has passed it around to all of her friends, and she's not happy that Gaimen's The Graveyard is winning the awards. She is begging me to read it, which I will as soon as we the book back from her girlfriends!

Anonymous,  7/17/09, 10:02 PM  

I'm so glad you enjoyed this one!

Melody 7/17/09, 10:21 PM  

I can't wait to read the sequel!!

Meghan 7/18/09, 7:06 AM  

Great review, glad you loved it! I totally agree that it deserves all the attention it's received so far.

serendipity_viv 7/18/09, 9:27 AM  

FAbulous review. I am glad you enjoyed this book too.

Anonymous,  7/19/09, 10:08 AM  

Wow...what a great review!

Anonymous,  7/19/09, 10:11 AM  

For a moment I thought your site is going to be one of those lame kids book reviews. I am impressed. Keep up the good work!!

Michelle 7/19/09, 2:25 PM  

I'm glad you enjoyed this. As you know I think this is one of the best books I've read this year. I find that it's ability to appeal to a wider audience than just young adults is a credit to Collins' writing talent. It didn't speak down to children but yet was compelling enough to keep those of us past our teen years enthralled.

Penny 7/19/09, 11:51 PM  

You remind me of why I need to move this book to the top of my TBR list. Thanks for the wonderful review!

Amy 7/20/09, 3:45 AM  

I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Heather 7/20/09, 5:34 PM  

I'm so glad you liked it. I want to reread it before Catching Fire comes out, so I'm going to get the audio. I can't wait to revisit this book!

Serena 7/24/09, 10:02 AM  

wonderful book. I've added your link to my recent review of this one. I can't wait for Catching Fire to make it to my mailbox.

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