“The Hunger Games” review

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Let’s be clear: while I once dived headlong into nearly any book, I’ve started to be very choosy about the sort of subjects I’ll touch.  What I’ve learned as a reader is that once you let an image or an imaginative concept into your head, it lives there.  No matter where you go, your mind goes with you, and the image/thought tags along.  Grimness, the inner thoughts of serial killers and rapists, or nasty,poisonous hate – I don’t want those living inside my mental landscape.

So a dystopian novel about a nation that forces citizens to offer up their children in a horrifying televised fight to the death doesn’t seem like a likely choice.  I’d shy away normally, but some people I really trust couldn’t get enough of it. Abby the Librarian and Melissa gave it really persuasive reviews and  I was looking for a book for Sandra to read.  She’d requested a page-turner with a heroine she would want to emulate.  That’s what she loves about Beka Cooper and was looking for more.

The book is grim at times.  Violent at times.  Heart-pounding at times.  But Suzanne Collins must be credited with something precious: deftness.  Everything moved from setting and character and the horrid bits were handled with a deft touch.  It’s never horrible, just horrid.  It never dwells or wallows.  The plot keeps zipping along, leaving you on the edge of your seat.  Like everyone else, I couldn’t put this down.

Katniss is an amazing young woman.  She feeds her family.  She never lets her guard down.  She is selfless and gutsy.  But she’s not perfect, and the urge to mentally shout at her and wake her up to a few facts is one of the tastiest bits of this novel.  “Katniss, clue in!” you hurl through the words, hoping you can save her.

I think you should read it.  I think your teens should read it.  It would make an amazing read aloud for those of you still doing this family ritual with older kids.

I think you should allow this novel to thrill you while it raises questions about government, about privacy, about trust, about reality TV shows, about luxury, and about survival.

I’m going to reread it.  I want to be able to watch the writing this time, to learn from it.  I was so absorbed in the experience of reading it that I couldn’t do anything but live the novel.  This time I want to puzzle out where the deftness hides and really observe the writing.



10 thoughts on ““The Hunger Games” review

  1. JoVE says:

    Interesting. I read it not long after finishing Atwood’s Year of the Flood and I think it suffered in comparison. Too much of a suspense thing and the dystopia wasn’t anywhere near as good. I did wonder if it was the comparison though.

    I agree that it was well written. But it felt more like a suspense/thriller than a good dystopian novel. I agree that the main character is well drawn and a good model for young women.

    But if you are in the mood for dystopian literature (that’s probably the wrong way to put it), I highly highly recommend the Atwood. Her dystopias are frightening precisely because you can see the links. They look scarily plausible/possible. Which is, I think, the point.

  2. Jen says:

    I’ve recently read the trilogy and thoroughly enjoyed all three books. Each book leaves the reader with a different feeling. I can see many parallels with modern lifestyles, particularly when comparing Capitol life to Westerners. I enjoyed the lack of supernatural. Katniss could be any 16-year-old. Another aspect I enjoyed was the lack of religion, a change from the usual dystopian novel.
    I’m still digesting all three books. Once dh is finished with book one I will be reading each book slowly and noting my reaction and thoughts as I read.

  3. grace says:

    I recently read all 3 on a recommendation from my cousin. I didn’t even realize it was teen until I picked it up at the library! I think I MAY have enjoyed book 2 even more than the first. I appreciated all the questions it brought up. Though Katniss has flaws, I like that she thinks for herself. Glad I’m not the only grown up reading this.

  4. Jen says:

    I devoured the trilogy and loved every minute of it. (well, ok. Some minutes I was shocked and horrified, but this is the evolution of reality TV and it was spot on, in my opinion. ) Suzanne Collins borrowed heavily from The Running Man, but I forgave her for it because her characters were much more multi-dimensional than Stephen King’s and I loved reading all about their lives around the games.

    Those and the Pendragon series are my favourite action movie books.

  5. Alex says:

    I have loved this series and I am planning on buying it (which says a lot!). You are much better at writing reviews than I am, very well said!
    My oldest daughter (13) is on the last book and has also really enjoyed this trilogy.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I hadn’t heard of that book. But, any book that makes you want to interact with the characters sounds like a good book to me! Another book to add to my ever growing list!

  7. hopewellmomschoolagain says:

    You may want to read MATCHED by Ally Condie [sorry, I’m a librarian–can’t resist telling anyone what to read “next”]

    • Sue says:

      Thanks for the review! I’m always looking for a good book, so I put Hunger Games on hold at our local library. (It must be pretty great, because I’m about 500 people down on the list!)

  8. Julie says:

    I actually listened to the first 2 books of the series and it was an excellent recording, they chose a fabulous reader. I had trouble coming in from the car some evenings because I didn’t want it to end. I read the last book because I was so in love with the story that I didn’t think I could take the extra time that listening requires but now I may go back and do the recording just for fun.

  9. skywriter says:

    The blogger writes:
    …”I’m going to reread it. I want to be able to watch the writing this time, to learn from it. I was so absorbed in the experience of reading it that I couldn’t do anything but live the novel. This time I want to puzzle out where the deftness hides and really observe the writing.”

    That’s what I thought too–only I forgot, because I was sucked in all over again. I think the strength of Collins’ writing isn’t the imagery or style, but the stark, burn-into-your-brain tale she tells. We walk her world and see our own. We love her characters and see ourselves. She’s never sentimental, never contrived, and she never, ever compromises. I put these books on a shelf shared by few others: They are more than stories I read. They are places I go.

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