Hunger Games, The

Suzanne Collins
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called,


Reviewed: 2020-07-13


Reviewed: 2020-06-29
The language isn't elaborate, but this just leads to build the suspense and anxiety, and even more importantly, belief in the very elaborate world Collins has built and the rules of this post-apocalyptic world. I think I would have enjoyed it a bit more if I hadn't already known the general storyline and the actors who portray the characters in the movie, but it was still a great read that I couldn't put down and I'm very glad I finally read it for myself.
Reviewed: 2020-05-13

The best description for this book/series in 10 words or less:

"Girl with savior's complex and trust issues kills to survive." 


I have read The Hunger Games series so many times, especially the first installment, that I lost count on how many times I have read it.

Suzanne Collins is a well-seasoned writer as is clearly seen in The Hunger Games. If you have done any research on any of the characters, places, and events in The Hunger Games and/or the rest of the series, you will see how much work was put into writing this book/series. From the name Katniss to her connection to being an archeress to the name Panem, it is rich in subtle references to mythology, nature, and results of political satire. Despite this book being more than a decade old, it continues to stay relevant in so many aspects of life and with current events.

Sure it seems like it duplicates pieces from the mythological story Theseus and the Minotaur, which Suzanne Collins has mentioned influenced this series in several interviews. But, it is clearly its own story. This book clearly pulls at your heartstrings and makes you think because no one truly wants to see your child or younger sibling be thrown into an arena and be forced to watch them most likely die or just come back with trauma.

Its widespread popularity has given many young women confidence that they can do anything they put their minds to as seen by the character Katniss. The depth of Katniss' character is extremely subtle and requires at least three reads to truly see her growth. Katniss may come off as this extremely brutal and selfish person. Think about it. How would you feel and react if you or your younger sibling were given a death sentence and completely stripped of who you are? I bet you would react the same way. Yes, she is calculating but behind all that, Katniss truly is being selfless. Pay attention to how she thinks through her actions and others.

I hear a lot of people gripe about the star-crossed lover romance portion. I believe it is over-the-top and is somewhat nauseating but is essential for Katniss' growth. The romance piece did add depth to it but in a lot of subtle ways.

Katniss' growth seems pretty stunted for the most part unless you look really deep into her characterization. It actually took me about 3 read-throughs of this installment of it to see the subtle growth she goes through, which is why I heavily wrote about Katniss' characterization in my senior.


I don't want to give too much away, but if you're interested in seeing a deep dive into Katniss' characterization feel free to reach out and I'll send you my senior thesis I wrote on this female warrior.


Refer to my blog for a different view of this review:

Reviewed: 2020-03-26
It was alright. It will probably make a better movie.
Reviewed: 2019-09-02
I don't read a lot of fiction, but my wife read this trilogy and told me I might enjoy it because I like SciFi films so much. She described the plot to me and I agreed, it sounds like something I would like. So I put it on my eBook reader and read the thing.

The first part of the book is incredibly slow. It's all buildup, establishing the world in which the main character, Katniss, lives. Though it's somewhat interest world-establishment, it seems to drag on. One entire chapter was devoted to a costume that she gets put in, which, after it is worn once, is virtually never referenced again. It felt like padding.

It worked on some level - because we were inside of Katniss's thoughts, we could sense her dread. The unfairness of the situation - being forced to kill or be killed in an arena with 23 other children, selected to represent their districts in a Running-Man style televised battle.

This sets up the rest of the book very nicely. As I read it, I found myself genuinely curious - how was Katniss going to get out of this impossible situation? She was going to have to die or she'd have to murder children as young as 12 years old. Once "The Games" section started, I was hooked, reading the entire rest of the book in a single day. This section of the book is incredibly engrossing.


The problem is that, during this section, the book fails to live up to the premise. The thing I found so interesting was the moral ambiguity - how could Katniss remain a likable protagonist when she murders children? Is it still morally okay to murder others to save yourself? The premise of the book, and the dark nature of the first section, made me really wonder exactly how Katniss would overcome the challenge of the arena.

But then the book cheats. A lot. More than half the kids kill each other in the first few minutes of the arena competition while Katniss runs and hides in the trees. They continue killing each other while she hides out for days, until she is forced out of hiding by "The Gamemakers" (the people responsible for putting on the games).

Once she's out of hiding, she encounters a large group of kids who have teamed up to kill the other kids, presumably to turn on each other later on. They chase her up a tree (again), and she drops a nest of deadly insects on them. They get stung and two of them die. However, even Katniss herself explains that she's not really directly the killer here - the insects were.

Later on, she teams up with a 12 year old girl. She wonders in the book how she's going to deal with killing this child later in the book. Indeed, Katniss, that would be a very difficult situation for you, I'm anxious to see how this gets resolv--Oh, some other kid kills the 12-year-old, naturally prompting Katniss to kill her killer. This is Katniss's first kill in the arena, and it's completely justifiable, no moral gray area here.

Alright, but there's still the question of Peeta, the other kid from Katniss's hometown. The two of them bond before the games, and he confesses his love for her. How will the book deal with the moment when she has to kill him? Surely that will explore some moral gray area? Nope, suddenly an announcer comes on and declares that there can be two winners of the games this year, so she and Peeta are allowed to team up and win together.

Fine. The "career tributes" are painted as violent monsters, so it will clearly be okay for them to be killed. But what about "Foxface" and "Thresh", two kids who are seemingly as innocent as Katniss? Thresh kills another of Katniss's competition and then is killed himself, clearing up that potential problem. Then Foxface is *ACCIDENTALLY* killed when Peeta picks poisonous berries and Foxface steals and eats them.

By the climax of the book, the only remaining combatants are Peeta, Katniss, and "Cato", the nastiest kid of them all (and who severely wounded Peeta earlier). By this point, Katniss has only killed a single person, in retribution for the 12-year-old's death. Surely she will have to kill Cato to win, right?

Nope. Some monster-dogs show up and attack Cato, leaving him a "hunk of meat". He begs for death, so Katniss shoots him with an arrow out of mercy. Suddenly the Gamemakers declare Peeta and Katniss have to battle to the death after all, then change their minds less than a page later.

I get it. Katniss survives by being smart, caring for others (like the 12-year-old and Peeta) and hiding out. She lets everyone kill each other, gets saved by people who care for her as well (she's saved from death not once, but twice, by males no less), then wins by default at the end. I understand what the book is trying to do, but it doesn't help.

The first 40 pages or so were devoted to setting up the impossibility of her situation. The only way to survive The Hunger Games is to kill the other children, no exceptions. The remainder of the book is spent justifying exceptions. I was invested in the book BECAUSE I found the impossible situation so engaging - then the rest of the book skirts around it and avoids it. It was infuriating.

It's a very interesting read, highly engrossing, but I would not call it satisfying. I'm trying to decide if I want to read the second book, which I understand just sends Katniss and Peeta back into another round of The Hunger Games in an all-stars kind of manner. How is that even possible with one winner a year? One of the "kids" who was at least 12 years old at the time must be 36 by now. Moreover, it sounds like a complete re-hash of the first book. I'm expecting Katniss to lead a rebellion and destroy the entire system (I hear this is the plot of the third book).

I also understand a movie is being made based on the book. I'm curious as to how that will come out, as I declared the book "unfilmable" to my wife about halfway through. Are you really going to make a movie where 12 year olds are murdered on screen? And Katniss is completely alone for half the book, so there will be nobody with whom to dialogue for much of the movie. Unless they rely on voiceover, how will that even work?
Reviewed: 2019-06-17
Awesome book. Can't wait to read the rest of the series.
Reviewed: 2019-04-20
Oh it's true, this is a fantastically narrated tale of a strong female protagonist who, love triangle or no, has a lot more going on in the brain department.
It's also a surreal, crazy but hyperrealistic portrayal of a cruel, dystopian future. It was a really good read. I wish I had this when I was fifteen.
Reviewed: 2018-11-10
A strange experience. I had the impression that this was well-written, but it lacked almost all of the features which would typically warrant such a label. For example, there's not a single memorable sentence in the whole book. This quite remarkable, since it means there's (also) nothing memorably bad. It's as if Collins was able to (deliberately or not) purge any trace of style from her work.

The novel is pure plot. There's no character motivation that is not explained, usually up front. Very little is described or explained about the setting, except where it's relevant to the action. The obvious theme of economic justice is not explored in any way other than narrowly, as a motivating force for the protagonist. For me, it was interesting to read as if it were experimental. 'What would happen to if you wrote a novel and stripped away everything but the plot?'

Of course, it's not really an experimental novel. And maybe it's a common phenomenon, and I just haven't read a book like it lately. At times, the writing seemed almost mercenary. For example, early on Collins mistakenly refers to a group of arrows as a 'sheath' (rather than 'sheaf'). Now, this is just the quibbliest of quibbles, but it stuck with me. Was it just sloppy copy-editing or sloppy research? If the latter, how could you make a mistake like that? The protagonist's distinguishing characteristic is 'good with a bow and arrow'. Surely, I thought, someone might have at least googled something about 'archery' before press time. The best answer I could think of was that the people responsible said 'oh, it's a young adult won't notice that kind of won't affect sales, so why spend any time on it.' At the same time, I always figured that 'young adult' meant something more than 'like for adults, but sloppier'.

No way of knowing, really. Maybe it was just an honest mistake. But those sorts of quibbles, combined with the 'pure plot' structure, continually gave me the impression of a book written not from the heart, but the wallet. Perhaps, in my old age, I've developed some sort of mental block that prevents me from enjoying (by all accounts) enjoyable commercial trash. Maybe it's just the old fashioned 'if you don't give a crap, why should I'?

Still interesting for the pure plot thing though (hence the three stars instead of two).
Reviewed: 2018-09-13
Excellent book, really good starting intro for the trilogy and and has a weirdly realistic feel to a possible future on the North American continent.
Reviewed: 2018-07-18
True love from the first page :)
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