Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

"Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. The Hunger Games have begun."

These books have been recommended all over the place, forever. Becky did a Writer's Wednesday post on them and Googling them brings up a butt load of other rec's and reviews. If you do Google them, beware of spoilers, please.

The Hunger Games is the first book in The Hunger Games Trilogy, followed by Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I've been meaning to read them for a while but was putting it off until I'd finished the mystery series I'm reading on Murdock but then one of my co-worker's received a hard cover set of the trilogy for Christmas and loaned them to me. I read the books in two days, which, even given my typical reading speed, should tell you how much I enjoyed these books.

They are Young Adult and you should keep that in mind. The writing is good but it's not *excellent*. What really draws you through is the story. It's good enough to make you forget that it's YA and it's a fairly good treatment of some very heavy themes.

The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future where America, and presumably the rest of the world, has destroyed itself. America has been replaced by a nation called Panem, a confederation of 12 Districts under the control of the Capitol. There used to be 13 Districts but the Districts rebelled 74 years before the beginning of this book. The thirteenth District was utterly destroyed, the remaining twelve defeated and enslaved by the Capitol.

"Happy Hunger Games and may the odds be ever in your favor."

In order to prevent any future rebellions the Capitol puts on the Hunger Games once each year. Two children, one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18 from each District are selected by lottery to participate. The twenty-four Tributes are taken to the Capitol, dressed up, paraded around and then dropped into an Arena where they fight to the death until there is only one left. The victor of the Hunger Games is set for life. They have food, comfort and pretty much anything that they could desire while the rest of the people of the Districts starve and slave away for the Capitol.

“What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by? What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment?”

Katniss Everdeen is from District 12, a strong hunter (which is outlawed) and the backbone of her family. Her father was killed in a mine explosion when she was 11, leaving her to find a way to keep her mother, her younger sister Primrose and herself alive. When Prim is chosen as Tribute from District 12, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Along with a boy named Peeta Mellark, who once saved her life right after her father was killed, she is taken to the Capitol to fight.

The first book is all about their struggle for survival in the arena. It's brutal, especially if you have a good imagination. The author doesn't dwell over every single death but the plain fact is that these are children, starving and desperate, taken from their homes and their families. Trained to fight and survive, then thrown into an arena designed to kill them or force them to kill. Their only way out is to kill. Some of the winners from previous Hunger Games have gone mad. There's at least one recorded instance of cannibalism within the Game. It's just as ugly as it should be.

These books suck you in. The world is so desperate, so ugly and still so filled with beautiful things, with people who are willing to fight for one another and sacrifice for the people that they love. It's wonderful, truly.

And I should warn you, I did a lot of crying towards the end of the last book. I spent most of the series going like this: O.O and screaming at characters in my head.

Also, I went to sleep one night in the middle of Catching Fire (because I just *had* to sleep at some point), thinking: 'Can't sleep, President Snow will get me.' which may only be funny to me. :)

Rating: All the stars! Realistically, let's go with a 4.75/5. Because no book is perfect.

And now, the trailer for the movie! Yes, I am going to see it when it comes out. I may even go to a midnight showing. Because it's just that wonderful.


  1. YAAAAY! I KNEW you'd love them as well. Wish we could go to a midnight showing together, that would be so much fun! But I'm going with my sisters, so that'll be great as well.

    I do completely agree with you, that one needs to keep in mind that it's YA, but that aside, I think they're GREAT.

    1. :D

      Fly South for the movie! ;) Assuming you're still stateside, I mean.

      I loved them a lot more than I thought I would. I figured I'd enjoy them but that would be it. No. I *had* to finish them as fast as I could to find out what happened, *especially* after the end of Catching Fire.

    2. Sadly I'm going home on Monday :(

  2. Replies
    1. They're very good and it'll expand your horizons!

  3. I love YA books, but I've been avoiding this series because it feels too much like Battle Royale. I know watching something like that doesn't compare to actually being in a war or similar situation, but I swear I had some miniature, less intense form of PTSD for days after watching that movie. I don't handle this sort of topic well.

    But I saw the trailer when I went to see another movie last weekend, and it does look really good. I wonder if it would be easier to take since it is made for kids. (I can't decide if Stanley Tucci's awful/awesome blue hair in the movie is support hat it's more childish or even more horrifying. :D) And I haven't actually tried to read a similar story, I'm sure a part of the problem with Battle Royale is actually seeing it. So I'm cautiously interested in the books and movie, but I'll wait awhile. Let other people go see the movie first and tell me if it's too much.

    You do really good reviews, btw. I've tried to do them a few times, but it mostly turns into more squeeing or ranting over the book/show/movie than actually describing and reviewing it for other people. :) One day I will learn.

    Oh, and also I noticed just now that you have a list of books you're reading on the sidebar. And then I saw GHOSTS and was excited and went to check it out and now it's on my wishlist too. I do not have enough ghosty things since I quit watching Ghost Hunters. But now I will!

    1. Ok. I never saw the movie or anime version of Battle Royale but I did read through a couple volumes of the manga. These books come nowhere near that level of detailed, lovingly described horrific violence. Most of the deaths actually happen off screen. Do people die? Yes. Do we see a few deaths? Yes. But they're not graphically described. Just enough for you to understand what's happening and that's it. The books deal with death in a horrible situation but they don't glorify it like Battle Royale did.

      The blue hair is a symptom of the Capitol. Everyone there is very into weird body mods. I don't know if it's an indicator of more childish imagery which will make it better for you or not. I don't think that the movie will be any more graphic than the book. I think the movie is only rated PG-13, right? So it can't be that bad.

      I plan on seeing it the weekend it comes out, if not at the midnight showing so I will let you know. :)

      Thanks! I always worry that I'm not giving enough information out in my desire to not give away the good stuff. Nice to know it's working for you!

      re: Ghosts: DON'T! This book is a freaking *encyclopedia* and it's rather boring. I'm only still reading it out of sheer bloody mindedness. Seriously. I started reading it like two years ago. I will, when I'm more conscious, find you good ghost book recs. Don't bother with this one or really anything by Holzer. Save yourself!

    2. Hm, I wouldn't say BR (the movie anyway, which is all I've seen) glorified violence. It was very graphic to drive home how horrible it is and make an impression on people. Hotel Rwanda handled the violence much the same way, and it needed to because this really happened, and you don't get it until you see it. Of course BR can't make that claim, but I think there's something real going on there in that the total horror of the violence makes us think about how much fictional violence we consume every day and how much it us usually glorified and not shown as something horrible.

      Ok, rambling over. :D I really do love the concept behind Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, and I'm even glad that BR went as far as it did with the violence. Obviously, it's had an effect on me and I don't like violent movies and such anymore. But I'm also very glad to hear that The Hunger Games isn't like that. It sounds like it's probably handled really well, though I'll still wait to see it until I hear opinions on the film. :)

      Hahaha, ok. No on the ghost book, then. Thanks!

    3. I've never seen the movie so I'm basing my opinion on the manga which, as I recall since it's been years since I read them, were very lovingly detailed and gratuitous over the violence. And I normally *like* violence, so that's saying something. Battle Royale and American Psycho (the book) are the only two things I've ever put down because I felt they were too violent for me to enjoy.

      That being said, I agree that the *concept* behind Battle Royale as well as The Hunger Games is brilliant and something that needs to be explored. We do take in a *lot* of violence every day and I think to a certain extent we've become desensitized to it. Clearly none of this has stopped me from enjoying a bloodbath now and again. *laughs* I'd totally be one of those people in the Coliseum cheering my heart out.

      I'm going to do a ghost book post now...

  4. I loved them too. And also read them by recommendation from Becky :)

  5. This is one of my favorite series without a doubt.

    1. Everyone should read these books, they're that good.

    2. I have yet to meet someone who didn't enjoy them.

      Although I'm pretty certain my mum wouldn't, she was asking me what they're about and she just looked at me in horror when I explained :P she doesn't like any kind of violence though.


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