2009: #35 – The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

hungergames Book #35 was The Hunger Games, the first book in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy.  The back of the book reads:

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival.

There is so much in this book to make you say “Wow”. Sure, there’s a lot here that’s been done before… a post-apocalyptic world where the people are oppressed and forced to take part in some winner-takes-all contest to the death is nothing new, but here it is done so well. Katniss is everything you would expect from a girl that’s had to take care of herself and her family most of her life.  She’s simple, straight to the point, does what needs to be done however she has to, and yes, a little cold. But she’s also stunted.  She’s so busy being a grown-up that she’s never had time to be a teenage girl, and her people skills are certainly lacking.  When she throws herself into the Games in order to save her much younger sister, she’s forced to come to terms with her weaknesses.

The Games themselves are a horrifying construction.  24 children (yes, children — they’re all 18 or younger) are forced into an arena of unknown makeup (will it be a forest? a desert? a frozen wasteland? will there be water? wildlife? edible plants?) and are left there to kill or be killed until there is one victor. As if that alone isn’t enough, the games makers are there to shake things up and encourage battle, and the entire thing is televised, 24 hours a day.  Katniss’s fight for survival is not only a physical one, but an emotional one, as she struggles with her feelings for fellow tribute, Peeta.

Since there is a second book (and supposedly a third), I’m going to assume that you realize that Katniss makes it through this alive.  However, all is not necessarily well, and the way the book ends makes you wish there was just one more chapter. The abruptness of the ending has upset some people, but I think it’s appropriate.  It leaves you wondering and a little bit confused, much like Katniss is herself.  Because remember, despite what she’s done and what she’s been through, she’s still just a 16 year old girl.

As a side note, if you’re considering this for your young adult reader, there’s no sex or bad language here, but there is a *lot* of violence, some of it quite gruesome.

Can’t wait for book 2.

Audiobook length: 11hrs 10min | Approximate word count: 76,800

2008: A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
2007: Iceberg (Clive Cussler)
2006: Seeing a Large Cat (Elizabeth Peters)
2005: A Secret Splendor (Sandra Brown)

Used in these Challenges: The Genre Challenge; 100+ Reading Challenge 2009; 1st in a Series Challenge; The 999 Challenge; A-Z 2009 Challenge;

8 thoughts on “2009: #35 – The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

  • March 27, 2009 at 4:08 pm
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    This was such a good read. I’m so glad that you think so, too. And, I can’t wait for Book 2 either!

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  • March 27, 2009 at 4:23 pm
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    this arrived in the mail this week… I am excited to read it.
    Also rumor has it that Stephenie Meyer highly recommends it.

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  • March 27, 2009 at 5:30 pm
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    When I read the synopsis of this book, it doesn’t sound like my kind of read, but so many people have loved it that I really want to give it a try. Great review.

    Reply
  • March 29, 2009 at 1:53 am
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    I really want to read this book! It’s on my wishlist, and I’m sure I will give in and buy it soon. Great review!

    Reply
  • April 10, 2009 at 11:34 am
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    Does anyone know when book 2 from Hunger Games will become available? I loved the book Hunger Games.

    Reply
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