Friday, September 5, 2008

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Warning: Only start this book on a day where you have no pressing responsibilities – you will not be able to put it down.

In a dystopian future, the nation of Panem (made up of a rich capitol and 12 poor districts) exists in what was once called North America. The capitol rules with an iron fist and discourages rebellion by cutting out the tongues of traitors and staging the annual Hunger Games – a fight to the death on live TV between tributes from the 12 districts (a boy and a girl from each for a total of 24) where only one can emerge victorious.

When 16 year old Katniss Everdeen is forced to volunteer in the place of her 12 year old sister, she doesn’t think she has much chance of winning. After all, the wealthier districts can send “career” tributes – volunteers who train for years for the games and who win more often than not. But a harsh life has made Katniss a survivor, her prep team prepares her well, and her fellow tribute from district 12, the charming and caring Peeta, has a plan that might just keep them both alive – at least for a while.

The Hunger Games grabbed me from page one and never let go. I only took one small break before I plunged back in to this gripping story. As you might suspect from the summary, the narrative is brutal at times, but the violence is never gratuitous or sensationalized. And it doesn’t overwhelm either, as we are given many scenes which are inspiring, humorous and even romantic.

Katniss is a strong female character, a bit surly (not that you can blame her considering the circumstances), but clever and loyal. It’s natural that we root for her as the tributes enter the arena. That we feel her pain when she’s attacked, burned, starving. That we cheer when “sponsors” send her something essential to staying in the game. And that we cry when the inevitable happens. I am rarely so emotionally involved in a story that I am moved to tears, but a certain scene in this book had me sobbing (fortunately not in public).

I’m not sure what to feel about the fact that this is the first book in a series. The main story of the 74th Hunger Games comes to a close, but I’m definitely curious about how the author will weave the loose threads together in the next book (s), perhaps filling out the bare bones back story of Panem. Problem is, I don’t want to wait – I would read all the rest of the books in the series now if I could.

My ARC says the release date is in October, but The Hunger Games appears to be on sale now at amazon. I say get it as soon as you can. It’s one of the best books I’ve read all year.

15 comments:

Ink Mage said...

Everyone says this is so good, I can't wait to read it. And what's cool is that my library is ordering it so I don't have to pay! :-)

BTW, I'd love to do a link exchange.

Jen Robinson said...

I agree. This is one of the best books that I've read this year, too. I'm recommending it to everyone I can think of also.

Sherry said...

Hi and congratulations! I'm busy visiting all of the nominees for the Book Blogger Appreciation Awards and trying to live up to my nomination by inviting everyone to participate in the Saturday Review of Books tomorrow and every Saturday at Semicolon. It's just a place I provide each week where book bloggers can leave a link to their book reviews for the week, and we can all find book reviews from other book bloggers.

You are cordially invited to participate. And good luck in the awards.

P.S. I must read this book. Everybody's saying such good stuff about it.

The Book Muncher said...

eek!!! i really really really wanna read this!!! i need to get a copy. now!!

towerofbooks said...

I loved this book! I can't wait for the next two.

Karin said...

Loved your review. I especially like your warning at the top. So true!

Lisa said...

I am so glad I caught your review! I love dystopian, apocalypse, everyone-dead-of-the-plague type books and this is definitely on my list.

Linda J said...

Loved your review. Also read Stephen King's review in this week's Entertainment Weekly. Think I might have to read this one...

Traci said...

Oh, I love Suzanne Collins - the Gregor the Overlander books are fantastic. I'm putting this on my wishlist now.

rjsbooklady said...

Sounds intriguing...I think I need a short break from dystopian novels, but I'll add it to the TBRs.

YA Book Realm said...

Oh yaay you read and reviewed Hunger Games!

I feel the SAME exact way! (I get so happy when someone feels the same thing for a book) It was really hard to put down. I would find myself rushing to get chores finished so I can finish the book. Ohhh I can't wait for 2nd book! I think she will do a good job (oh boy jinxed it), or at least I hope so I mean she did an excellent with this one.

Alea said...

This sounds like more of a stand alone book so it will definitely be interesting to see where a series will take it.

Tasses said...

Just wanted to let you know that I've linked to your review here: Random Wonder

merrywindsor said...

Ink mage, I am with you.. that goes for any book I like- I get it at the library! Came in thinking this was on eating disorders by the title, boy, was I off! "A Piece of cake" is on here, too, on Lenore's homepage. Setting my face like flint (book quote) is what got me through.. steel on your heart. So many books are like that, telling tale of abuse.. have you read Potato Chips for Breakfast? One of my all time favorite books. Let's do a link exchange, Ink Mage!

Sandra Danby said...

I still love this book, after reading the trilogy, after seeing Catching Fire this week. She really knows how to push a story along. SD