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I love books. I'm a bit of an addict in fact. I will buy books that sound good and pop them on my shelves or in my "to be read soon" pile which is ever growing. Soon I will consume every last piece of space on my shelves with books and this will make me warm and cosy on my insides. Recently I've been stuck on reading a rather large set of books which has been turned into a popular TV series (Game of thrones) so that pile has managed to get completely out of control. Since I've finished the last GoT related book, I started looking for the books in the pile that would seem to be a bit of fluff so I can get through them quickly and reduce the pile a little. Obviously that wasn't my only motivation for wanting to read them, but that's how I chose what I would start with. After whizzing through a short story, another set of books caught my eye: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
===Collins explains it all ===
Collins was brought up in a US military family and currently lives in the recently tragedy stricken town of Sandy Hook in Connecticut. She has had a hand in quite a few television programmes before she began writing books, one of which was Clarissa explains it all (the show that made Melissa Joan Hart famous before she landed her role as Sabrina the teenage witch) which throws me right back to my school days and also had a hand in Clifford's Puppy days (think the big red dog). She has written other novels before The Hunger Games called the Underland Chronicals which was on the New York Times best seller list and possibly now on my list of books to look into.
===The Bread Line===
I got this book as a Christmas present from my friend so I paid bog all for it. If you are interested in buying them for yourself then you can find each book for about £7 each OR you can be sensible and buy the trilogy together for the same £7 price. If you are a kindle-ite then for once you are getting the worse deal on this one with each book coming in about £3.47 meaning you'd end up paying more for your kindle version than actual paper.
The Hunger Games is set in a distant future. The earth has been ravaged by war and has been reduced to a relatively small population controlled by President Snow in The Capitol. The population was split into 13 districts that each has their own duties such as agriculture or coal mining. You are born, you serve, you die. About 74 years prior to the start of the story, District 13 rebelled and were swiftly kicked in the nuts by The Capitol who wiped the entire district off the face of the earth. Since then, every year, as a show of The Capitols power and as punishment for the rebellion of long ago, each District must pick two children above the age of 12 (one male and one female) to compete in The Hunger Games: a battle to the death in which there can only be one survivor. Katniss is 16 years old and has been praying she won't be selected, but she ends up thrown into the hunger games with a boy she only knows vaguely from her District.
===The nineteen battle show ===
Having heard a lot about the hunger games, I instantly compared it in my head to Battle Royale which deals with a state which picks a class or two each year to be sent into a fight to the death as a method of controlling population growth. There were definitely a lot of elements of Battle Royale taken for this story. What I didn't expect is that I would also begin comparing the book to 1984 with the all seeing, all powerful state control and The Truman Show where every minute of their time in The Capitol is being recorded and broadcast. The games are a huge televised event: a sick form of entertainment for those in The Capitol and a cruel punishment that those in the outlying districts are forced to watch.
The book took a few directions that I really didn't expect it to. I'd say that less than half of the book deals with Katniss's time in the arena and instead focuses on the stark contrast between the poor, starving district people and the lavish excesses of those who were lucky enough to be born in The Capitol.
The story is an interesting one, but the thing that made me enjoy it a little less was the focus Collins made on some of the more trivial aspects of Katniss's rise to fame such as her wardrobe or how her makeup was done that day. The story is told from Kat's point of view so I guess it is only fitting that a 16 year old girl may focus a little on the fashion aspect of it all, however, it didn't fit very well with Kat's character for me. This also meant that we didn't get to see anything that was going on outside of her little bubble so the reader instantly has their world shrunk down to what Katniss is experiencing. I honestly feel that Collins could have made this a stunning novel if she had went outside Katniss's bubble and explored some of the themes of Voyeurism, excess, the divide between those in power and those at the bottom, cruelty in human nature, rebellion, right, wrong and many different kinds of love that are briefly touched upon. In saying this, the book could easily be a great conversation point for young people in school and may even encourage some deeper thought and discussion about the issues that have been tip-toed around.
In this book, at least, I actually found her to be quite an annoying character due to the fact that she couldn't figure out simple plots that were unfolding and quite blatantly leading on not one but two boys and not realising. It's almost infuriating to read at times. The two boys that she may, or may not love at least show the idea of the many different kinds of love you can feel which is more than I expected the book to show upon first glance. For now though, Katniss remains completely confused by her conflicting feelings.
On the plus side, it does give you the impression that the following books will be diving head first into some really gritty topics instead of popping some bubblegum and skipping around the edges, which is what kept me reading to the end. You still want to know who will survive and if The Capitol will ever get what they deserve for the atrocity that is The Hunger Games. Can the Districts sit by and take their punishment or do they have the power to rise up?
Something that did bug me slightly about this book is the portrayal of the people in The Capitol. The words Collins uses spits on them constantly when I feel she maybe should have taken the opportunity to look more at the concepts of indoctrination and beliefs. Nearly everyone in The Capitol has grown up being told how their world works and accept it. They don't really know that much about the people in the districts and how poor and starving they are. Most annoyingly Collins uses body modification to separate them out as almost alien. A lot of the fashion in The Capitol revolves around tattoos, piercings, dying your hair (and skin) bright colours and more extreme body modification like cat whiskers. A few times she says how disgusting tattoos are and how stupid people look with colourful hair which, while I see what she's trying to do, is not something I feel she should have used the way she did. She managed to find plenty of other ways to get across the sheer grotesqueness of their culture without picking on a way of life that exists anywhere on this planet. If it wasn't a book for teens and younger people, then I'd probably not mind so much.
Is it worth it? Yes and no. As a stand alone book, no. It's bordering on shallow in content at the same time as touching on a lot of much, much deeper issues. The main character is mind numbingly annoying at the best of times but you can tell that there is going to be a lot of potential in the forthcoming books. Ultimately I enjoyed the book, but know that deep down it could have been a lot more spectacular, heartbreaking, and hard hitting than Collins chose to make it. Would I recommend it? Yes, but only if you intend to read the others too. I'm giving it three stars out of five which I feel mean for, but don't be disheartened by this. The next books in the trilogy more than make up for it. This book will at least stir your hunger to find out what is going on but it won't satisfy you on its own.
This book is absolutely amazing! It is the first book of this wonderful series and by chapter two it already caught my attention. I love thrillers and suspenseful books. This one shows my love, because Collin's way of putting the story together matches my description of preferred books. She includes an immense amount of action that will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time reading! It has thrilling action, sad moments, suspenseful moments, shocking moments, and "YES!" moments! If you buy this book be sure to check out the other two! They are both equally amazing. This wonderful book has brought me to a conclusion that this book can really trap you in its quiver and raise your spirit like a charm. I recommend this book to anyone that likes to read and have a mixed amount of emotions while doing so! It is very intriguing and it touched my soul the moment I picked it up. Once you start reading chapter one, you won't be able to stop! It will catch your attention and you'll be trapped! You will have a thrill reading this book because it feels like you're in the events that takes place! It is a mixed emotion book; you will have a dose of positive and negative feeling. Enjoy reading and "May the odds be 'ever' in your favor!"
My daughter has a real love of books, she gets this from me, and as she is nearly a teenager now i have found that we have started sharing somne of reading choices, with this book being one of them!
The book in question is - "The hunger games" by Suzanne Collins".
Set in the future (not too far away either!), the world is very different from the one we know.
Each year, and for the entertainement of the "Capitol" (the rich and powerful city that controls every other area), twelve boys and twelve girls are balloted from the surrounding areas to go into a specially designed arena to fight to the death, all whilst being streamed live on the television.
After the ballot has been taken in area 12, Katniss Everdeen is horrified to find that her much younger sister has beeen drawn to fight for her life, so steps forward to take her place, throwing herself into a life, death and survival situation, but Katniss is an old hand at this game of life............will she survive?
This book impressed and surprised me too, being aimed towards the younger end of the market i found that some of the deaths and situations described were a bit close to the knuckle, ok for me as a horror genre fan, but probably not so good for my daughter (though she did read some of it, then lost interest).
The book has a real fast paced feeling to it, with the first half of the book being the main characters life and background, and the second half being solely set in the arena following many of the characters in the "hunger games", most of which had a real feel of menace to it.
The characters were all fantastic, and all very different coming from very different backgrounds, Katniss being the daughter of a deacesed miner, meaning she has had to learn to survive or starve to death, as her mother became so depressed for a time that she stopped functioning, leaving her to look after her younger sister Primrose.
Peeta is the son of the local and very affluent baker, he is very well spoken, well educated and rich, but has always had a soft spot for a certain young lady who lost her father in a mining accident, he knows how he must play the games!
Gale is Katniss's best friend/ love interest, also losing his father in the same mining accident as Katniss's father, they soon become friends after having to break the rules and start to hunt for meat to feed thgeir families, he soon starts see that he could be replced by Peeta in Katniss's affections.
This book is actually really good, there is plenty of action and emotion, and once the book had got into the arena i found it extremely difficult to put the book down until the end, though at no time did i feel the book would end as i was expecting, there are moments that literally had my heart in my mouth!
To the point that this is aimed at the younger audience, i feel that the slightly older teenager would love this book, there is no bad language or sexual content, but for me at times the elaborate ways that some of the children died would be a bit upsetting for the younger child (there is a particularly horrible one involving a young girl of 7/8 years old, it actually made me cry!).
Price wise this was purchased as the whole set (3 books), for £5.00 from www.thebookpeople.co.uk and is also available from "the works" or www.asda.com though you will pay a little more there.
This was a really good read and would thoroughly recommend it, though if giving to a child read first for your own piece of mind!
Thanks for reading x
Last week I read a review of this book by dawnymarie, the review was so good I bought the first book (In a series of three) on Kindle straight away and subsequently read all three books in the series within four days. Suzanne Collins is an amazing writer and the plot is so interesting that I found it really difficult to stop reading.
The stories are aimed at young adults, but at the age of 32 (A young adult by no means) I found that this book, and the two that come after, are the best things I've read in a long time.
This book is for the Kindle edition although it is also available in paperback and hardback and as a trilogy box set.
Kindle - £3
Paperback - £4
Hardback - £12
Trilogy Paperback Set - £14
(Prices are approximates based upon Amazon, you may find them cheaper if you look around)
It's some point in the near future, we're not exactly sure when, following a apocalyptic event that wiped out a lot of the world. Panem, the Country central to our story and the only one wee here about, is positioned somewhere within the area of where North America used to stand. Panem, is a wide divided, quite literally, it's split into 12 areas (There used to 13 but one was destroyed during a rebellion) with all power and wealth held by the Capital (Called the Capital). The further you move away from the Capital, through districts 2 to 12, the amount of resources and the standard of living decrease. Each district is responsible for a certain type of industry, zone 11 for example is responsible for agriculture and district 3 produces electronics. Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old girl, lives with her mother and sister in zone 12, a sparse location with little wealth or resources, that is responsible for the production of coal. Life is pretty grim in district 13, people are generally quite poor and struggle to survive, living day to day. Luxuries like electricity and food are sparse and employment opportunities are pretty much limited to working down the mines.
On to the games. In order to keep its citizens in place, each year a Hunger games is held to remind people of what happens if you choose to dissent. Each year two contestants from each district are chosen via a lottery, one girl and one boy from all children that are aged 12 to 16. They then become the stars of a most watched and entertaining tv show (The only thing their TV's are used for other than more media controlled propaganda news bullitins) and as all citizens of Panem watch, these 24 children must fight to the death until only one victor remains.
When Primrose, Katniss' 12 year old sister, is chosen you can probably guess that big sis is not too pleased at this idea. She volunteers to take her place and so the 74th annual Hunger Games begin.
Katniss Everdeen - Katniss is our main protagonist, highly affected by her father's death in a mine collapse when she was 11, she has become the sole provider for her family. She hunts illegally (Through a hole in the electric fence that they can't even afford to electrify) and trades her wares on a black market, using the hunting and survival skills her father taught her before he died, and manages to keep her family on the edge of being comfortable. A somewhat perimistic person, perhaps from having to grow up so fast, she sees the world from a unique perspective. Whilst she has a hard exterior, she'll do anything to protect the people she loves. She's also pretty apt with a bow and arrow, which proves useful later on in the story. Collins based the character of Katniss upon Theseus, of Greek Mythology, and it is clear to see the influence.
Primrose Everdeen - In opposition to her big sister, Primrose she's the world as various shades of yellow, with an idealised and nieve point of view that sees the best in everything. As Katniss does everything she can to protect Primrose, she's led a more sheltered existence for 12 years and therefore it is unimaginable that she would be able to survive very long when being hunted by older and faster children. You experience the same turmoil as Katniss when the name Primrose is read out for the Hunger games selection.
Peeta Mellark - An acquaintance of Katniss who is in the same class as her at school but not someone she knows well. Peeta is the chosen boy, from the Hunger Games lottery, to represent district 12 in the games. His fate becomes entwined with that of Katniss but I can't really say more without giving away too much plot.
Haymitch Abernathy - A victor of the games 24 years ago, who has since become very dependent upon alcohol. As the only ever victor from district 12 he serves as a mentor for Katniss and Peeta. He reminds me of a drunken Hagrid for those Potter boy stories for some reason. The character of Haymitch provides the comedy in this novel but does become more prominent in the following two books.
There are a lot more characters than the four mentioned, but the list could go on and on as we are introduced to quite a number of people. I'm rubbish with names yet I can remember every character in this novel as they are so well developed. Even minor characters have fully fledged personalities with numerous shades of grey (Maybe even more than 50, in your face E. L. James, this is how books should be written) and Collins lets you build relationship[s with them, making it very hard to stop reading.
Suzanne Collins truly is an exceptional author, the Hunger Games series is the first I've read of her work but I'm very impressed so far. She presents alien lands and situations in a way that not only makes them fully comprehensive but also allows you to see the connections with our own time. She also provides a fully fledge sense of the characters wet she does so with simplicity and without the need for tedious over descriptions. The words just flow which makes the book very easy to read and you can gain a lot of knowledge about what is going on in a very short space in time.
There is no pomp and circumstance or literary tools just for the sake of it to try and be pretentious; it is just a beautifully told story. I didn't have to go back and read sections that I didn't quite understand which I do sometimes have to do in other future or scifi based novels. I'd rate her very highly in my list of favourite authors and I'm obviously not the only person who thinks so as the book has won a number of awards including Publishers Weekly's Best Books of the Year in 2008, The New York Times Notable Children's Book of 2008, 2009 winner of the Golden Duck Award in the Young Adult Fiction Category, 2008 Cybil Winner for fantasy and science-fiction, School Library Journal's Best Books 2008, Booklist Editors' Choice" in 2008 and 2011 winner of the California Young Reader Medal. She's also written five novels that make up the The Underland Chronicles about a land under New York City (Have put this on my list to read) as well as a couple of other novels and she wrote for the TV series Clarissa Explains It All (Am very impressed, I loved that show).
There are so many wider issues raised by the Hungar Games that I can not possibly cover them all in one review. The themes central to the book are oppression, dissent, helplessness and survival. It also raises a central issue regarding the role of violence in the media. I find some TV shows today very uncomfortable. I don't watch X Factor auditions or variations of 'You've been framed' as I find the concept quite horrible, taking pleasure from the misfortune or stupidity of others, watching somebody suffer. Where do we draw the line between entertaining tv and a train wreck in action? The scary thing about the Hunger Games is that I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility, which is both incredibly scary but also something that needs to be talked about. Would we become desensitised to real life death an violence in the same way that fictional violent films lose their impact the more you watch them (I can't watch violent films, I don't want to see violence in real life and therefore don't understand why people would want to watch a fictional version of it). What happens when the actors are no longer actors? We know from many examples thought history that propaganda can be used in order to control a nation. We know that people imearse themselves in the suffering of others in order to make themselves feel better (Just look at how many viewing figures Eastenders and Coronation Street get).
The film has been adaptered into a film which has already finished at the cinema but is available on dvd and blu-ray from the 3rd September. It starts Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson & Liam Hemsworth. I haven't seen it yet so I can't comment.
* Format: Kindle Edition
* File Size: 542 KB
* Print Length: 454 pages
* Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1407109084
* Publisher: Scholastic Fiction; 1 edition (3 May 2011)
* Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
* Language: English
* ASIN: B005EGXTEE
* Text-to-Speech: Enabled
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
I am a very late joiner to the Hunger Games bandwagon because despite all the hype around it I resisted reading it until yesterday. The main things putting me off were that, based on the brief outline of the plot which I had heard, I thought it sounded like a massive Battle Royale rip off (something which a lot of people have obviously noticed) and the fact that I am not always keen on all these popular trilogies and series for "young adults". I was a bit put off by the strange character names too!
However, I got a cheap copy of The Hunger Games yesterday at a book fair and thought I might as well give it a go to see what all the fuss was about. I loved it and am now kicking myself that I didn't also pick up the second book, Catching Fire.
After reading The Hunger Games I do think the similarities to the 1999 Japanese novel Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (which was also made into a manga series and a film, all of which I have read/seen) are pretty huge, but as I was reading I just got into the Hunger Games world and forgot about Battle Royale.
I'm sure most people have a rough idea of the plot, although for the benefit of those who don't, I will give a quick run down. There are still people who have never heard of The Hunger Games, such as my dad yesterday when he was asking what I was reading.
It is a few years into the future, and North America as we know it today has gone, and been replaced by the country of Panem, led from the Capitol and comprising 13 districts where the people live. After district 13 tried to rise up against the Capitol, the state instigated a new yearly ritual - The Hunger Games. A boy and girl from each of the 12 remaining populated districts are chosen to take part. This is an extremely gruesome televised gameshow where the participants (called tributes) are put into an "arena", which is somewhere out in the wild and has different environment each year, and have to kill each other until only one victor remains. This will sound very familiar to Battle Royale fans but there are some differences, such as in Battle Royale the children taking part are all from the same class at school, whereas in Hunger Games the children come from all over the country and don't know each other apart from possibly the other participant from their district.
Throughout the novel we follow the progress of the main character, Katniss Everdeen, who ends up competing in the games after she volunteers in her 12 year old sister's place. We also meet Peeta Mellark, the boy tribute from Katniss' district, and the other players in the game.
One thing that I did really like about the Hunger Games, and which is quite different to Battle Royale, is that we are shown quite a lot of events before the games actually begin. The story starts before the tributes are chosen, and we see Katniss in her normal family life, where she is a resourceful hunter bringing meat to her poor family to keep them alive in the poverty of the district 12 Seam (like a ghetto). We witness the Reaping, which is how the tributes are chosen, and I found the explanation of this and how the number of entries work was quite fascinating. The way the whole event is presented as a game is actually quite sickening, and throughout the book we can't forget it is done as "entertainment" as throughout the Reaping there is an annoying and vapid seeming TV presenter, then the tributes must all dress up, go through interviews and so on, and even during the games in some of the most difficult moments Katniss has to remind herself to put on certain faces for the camera. They have to worry about how they are seen so they attract "sponsors", rich supporters who bet on their survival and occasionally send them things to help them during the games.
In The Hunger Games the character of Katniss, and to a lesser extent Peeta, are developed in quite a lot of detail. Katniss is shown as likeable, human and vulnerable but still clever and with a survival instinct. With Peeta there is a lot of uncertainty about what tactics he is using, what he is really thinking, who he is aligning himself with and whether he can really be trusted. I was rooting for him to be a good guy, and you are definitely given the impression he is good at heart based on his past childhood encounter with Katniss and the things he says before going into the arena, but during the games you do wonder if it was all a front and think the desperation of the games can change people, so I liked that it was not always black and white as Peeta does some questionable things.
Overall I really enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. I raced through it within a day and once I started reading it I didn't want to stop. I was not bothered about the Battle Royale similarities, as I found the concept of this game interesting then and I still do now and actually I think it was fascinating to see how pretty much the same concept was tackled by another writer. The Hunger Games is well written and kept me gripped throughout.
I would say don't be snobbish about it like I was at first - it actually is a really good book that is worth reading!
Suzanne Collins certainly does seem to be one of the authors of the moment, her Hunger Games trilogy seemingly the latest teen craze, the Twilight saga having come to a literary close even we have one film left to experience. Winning teen movie awards and making bigger stars out of its cast, the film of the first book has helped the books launch back into the top lists of the book lists. My wife has pretty much finished the trilogy in the best part of a fortnight, and her fervour for them was enough to make me give it a go.
The premise of the book is not a completely original one. The novel 'Battle Royale' was published about 15 years ago, and is very similar in its core context of a bunch of kids thrust into an 'arena' of sorts, with only one of them able to survive. The Hunger Games is set in the future, where a group of natural disasters have led to lands being ravaged and split and changed from what we know, the States being split into 13 districts, one of which was laid to waste in response to an uprising against the Capitol, the new supreme powers that treat all other districts with totalitarian rule and a strict firm hand.
Each year on the same day, two teenagers from each district are chosen from a hat to enter the games. The 24 teens are then entered into a vast, climate controlled arena whose landscape could range from forest to desert. Only one of them may survive, which sets them off against each other. The 74th year the event has taken place, there are now those who strive for the glory of competing in the games, while others, such as our heroine Katniss Everdene, dread their choosing. When Katniss volunteers to save her younger sister from the games, she is launched in and must combat all manner of emotions and loyalties in order to survive.
Collins doesn't mess about with plot development, and her word selection is very good. She is able to explain the surroundings, characters, emotions and events in a way that is so easy to read. It does mean that there isn't as much depth and broad description as there may be, but what this results in is a book that flows very well and is virtually impossible to put down. Her characters are relatable even if the setting and events aren't, and the emotions experienced by the main character, Katniss, are real enough that you almost know what's going to happen and be felt before it occurs in the book.
The flow and smoothness of the 400+ pages and the regular spacing of chapters certainly helps. The content verges on mature themes from time to time, especially as there are scenes featuring death, particularly where some of the nastier characters are concerned. The characterisation itself couldn't really be better. I felt I had a solid visual perception of nearly everyone, with the only exception being those characters who are mentioned only briefly, and even then the circumstances in the book were enough to often have some solid vision.
The ending of the book leaves things open very well for the sequel, which I'm now halfway through. It's certainly not literary genius, and takes cues from tales such as Battle Royale and Stephen King's The Running Man, but these are concepts it's easy to think about even if you haven't seen it before. Apparently Collins knew nothing of Battle Royale before she submitted the manuscript, stating that the idea came from dozing in front of the TV whilst flicking between reality TV and the Iraq war. I can see how this has manifested into the novel, and it's all original enough that it's unique. You can't really plagiarise a vague concept anyway, not in this sense. I've thoroughly enjoyed how hard it is to put this book down, and the second is going along in pretty much the same way. I look forward to the film, but if you want something enjoyable and easy to read, there's nothing new that's better than this right now. Recommended.
What attracted me to this one?
This novel has been on my reading list since reading Wickedinrock's review some time ago. The movie was released and I resisted the temptation to go and view it before reading the book. The premise sounded unique and fascinating in the first instance but since all the hype it has had recently I knew I had to get around to reading this one.
The world as we know it has changed dramatically after periods of freak weather, the outcome is a population that is segregated into 12 districts (once 13) that provide all life sustaining and luxury items to the city, Capitol. Life is not pleasant for Katniss, who lives with her widowed mother and younger sister, Prim. They are located in District 12 and this area provides coal. Most people are just managing to survive on scraps. Katniss and her friend, Gale, illegally hunt and operate on the black market, successfully. They are aware that they could easily survive in the woods if they needed to but won't leave their families, who have come to rely on them. After a failed rebellion by the districts the powers that be destroyed District 13 and all residents as an example to anyone else who attempted to rebel. As a yearly reminder they also decided to hold The Hunger Games. All children aged 12 to 18 have the chance of being one of the two selected from each district - one boy and one girl. The rules of the game are to survive and the winner is the last one to remain alive. When little Prim is selected Katniss charges from the crowd and volunteers herself to take her place. Katniss is just 16 years of age and she has just entered herself into the game of her life - it could turn out to be the end of her young life.....let the games begin.
'constant suspense ....I couldn't stop reading' - Stephen King
The trumpet has sounded...
Suzanne Collins is a brand new author for me, from the very first page she had me interested enough to turn the pages of this 454 page novel. Her writing is on a need to know basis and you can allow your imagination run wild. It's like a partnership between the author and her reader - she will give you an concept in so many words (concise) and you get to play around with what she has given you. I very much like this in a writer and it maintains a fast pace. I like the way Suzanne developed the idea of this book - she was flicking channels on TV and in her minds eye she had an image of Katniss in a reality TV show playing war games - for real.
Katniss is introduced from the off and though she is a quiet, sullen, tomboyish character I picked up on something endearing about her and warmed to her very quickly. She is good friends with an older boy, Gale, who she hunts with and respects - the respect is mutual but there is an indication of a bit more which gains my interest and I wait to see what develops. Even though she has lost faith in her bereaved mother - due to her mother withdrawing from her motherly role when her husband was killed in the mines - she, clearly, still loves her. The tell tale signs of Katniss's compassion lies with her, lioness type, protectiveness of her young sister, Prim. She has mothered the girl and cared for her mother since the death of her father. The more I learned about Katniss's personality the more I cared for her and what happened to her. She is a troubled girl who is doing the best that she can in a dire situation and has more admirers and respect than she imagines.
There is a brief encounter with a boy from Katniss's school, Peeta, and initially I thought nothing of the kindness that he showed her when she was down on her luck. He is a bakers son and after his mum chastises her, for rooting in her dustbin for scraps, he risks a beating to get two loaves of bread to her. I thought he was just taking pity on her and that was it - but there is more to it than that. When Katniss has volunteered herself for the games, to save her little sister from certain death, she is joined by Peeta when his name is picked out of the bowl.
During the preparatory period before the games, in the city of Capitol, the contestants are preened, fed well and trained in survival skills and weaponry. The information that is woven into these part of the prose is impressive. Plants that can be used to heal, eat and poison are discussed in a way that puts the point across concisely - I remembered them easily and imagined what it must feel like to be 16 years old and in a life or death situation. During the training there are elements of humour which I thought appropriate and understandable in the situation. There are 24 contestants in total but Katniss has no intention of getting friendly with any of them - what would be the point in that when she is going to have to try to kill them before they get to her. Try as she might, however, there is some odd tension going on between her and Peeta - even though they have been advised to play a 'love interest' card there are times, when they are off screen and out of earshot, that Peeta seems genuine. This concept had me intrigued because I really couldn't be sure if he was playing along with what Haymitch, their mentor, had instructed or did he actually love Katniss? This got the pages turning I can tell you.
A romantic theme running through the prose was welcome but the main theme of survival was drawing me in further - quicker - and on I read. The chapters are a great length were you think you will just read another and before you know it another three have whizzed by.
My heart was actually beating faster when the contestants where placed in the arena - they had to wait till the trumpet sounded before making a decision to make a run for supplies or run for their lives with nothing. Katniss had been instructed to run for her life - get out of there - but this is Katniss we are talking about here and she is no wimp, she has seen her weapon (bow and arrows) and makes the mistake of trying to get it. Whether or not she got it I will not say but she did get some worthwhile provisions before fleeing. She got my interest with her courage and tenacity in that arena, I was more than willing to read on and urge her to do well. I wouldn't be the only one, as the reality TV show, this game of horrors, was compulsory viewing for all of the population - including families of the contestants. I didn't want to imagine who that must feel - what a horrible thought.
As the game progresses we see our heroine suffer in the ways you would expect when you have no water, little food and notmuch to hunt with. Add to that a pack of hunters who track you down in the night so that you get little or no sleep and you got yourself an incredible piece of suspense. I needed to know how Katniss would get water before she died of dehydration, I had to make sure she was not speared from her tree in the night - the pages had to turn as I couldn't leave off and not know she was okay, that she had made it to another day.
Each night images of the dead are projected into the night sky - Peeta has not been one of them up to now. Is Katniss relieved about that? She is confused by his decisions - so am I. Does he love her or is it a ploy - a trick so that he can kill her easily when her guard is down? I have to turn more pages to discover more.
Katniss is reminded of her young sister by a girl of the same age, Rue, they become allies and don't think about the days ahead when they may need to consider killing each other - for now they have a bond and genuinely trust each other. This is when you get to see Katniss for who she is - she is a protector of the weak and compassionate - I grow fonder of her all the time and really don't want anything bad to happen to her. The pages that involve the relationship between Rue and Katniss are some of the most tender and emotive in the book - they evoked strong emotion. A beautiful piece of writing in that area in particular.
As the days, and nights, pass by the numbers of contestants dwindle, rules of the game are adjusted for the first time ever, to create more interest for the viewing public and mess with the minds of the children in the arena. There has been much suffering for all, Katniss has played defensive and offensive - this has made one enemy in particular and he is one angry guy - Cato.
As the end of the prose draws closer there are revelations that surprise and horrify me. The bloodthirsty public want a spectacle like no other and an ending that will satisfy them fully - will Katniss survive The Hunger Games? Has she developed feelings for Peeta? If she has, what about Gale?
It didn't take me long to find out the answer to those questions as I read this book in no time - I couldn't put it down - that is the sign of a good book! I'm not giving any indication as to the outcome of these games but I can say that I found the ending highly satisfactory and I'm hungry for more!
It is difficult to miss this one in most places that sell books at present. I bought from Amazon at about half price but you can get it in the two for £7 at Tesco at this time.
Lets just say that when I saw the recommendation by Stephen King on the front cover I had no hesitation in buying - he likes the author to get on with the story and keep those pages turning and that is what you have got with this one. It's a pretty quick read because you simply cannot put it down. It has suspense and intrigue - you just have to know how things turn out. I cared for Katniss and somewhere along the line I began to care for Peeta too! And Rue! These characters were developed beautifully. Katniss is a born survivor, she may get herself into trouble and need a little help now and then but ultimately she is capable and has the courage of a lion - I had great respect for her tenacity. If death loomed close she faced it with grace - she remained elevated in all situations, I liked that in her character. This girl had compassion, didn't like to show it as she saw it as a weakness but she had a big heart. She knows right from wrong but knows when and how to use discretion. I loved getting to know her bit by bit as the book went on and genuinely rooted for her to win, even though it horrified me to know that others would have to die in order for Katniss to survive. This book tugged at my emotions and made me sit up and think. Suzanne Collins has done a sterling job in my opinion and I can highly recommend this one.
Also published on Ciao
It was early last year that my book addiction was just beginning. I had already purchased several books based on recommendations in the listmania section of Amazon. I was looking for more up to date recommendations, with the listmania section not seeming very lively at all, when I came across Goodreads.com. I would now call it a second home! There were many "best book" list in the listopia section of the site (actually, only one "best book" list is allowed, so they vary, such as best fantasy book, best book characters etc.) but the same few series would appear again and again at the top, voted for my Goodreads users. Sometimes, this would be the Harry Potter series. With its final 2 movie adaptations of its 7th book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the way, this was hardly surprising! The Harry Potter series is a literature and movie phenomenon. A whole generation of people did and still do hold those wonderful J.K Rowling books close to their hearts. If it wasn't Harry Potter, it was of course the Twilight saga all the way at the top. Interestingly, the books also found themselves topping "worst book" lists, but I will not pass judgement on a book series I have yet to delve into. However good or bad the Twilight series may or may not be, there is no denying the passionate response it has received from its fanbase, so Stephanie Meyer has certainly done something right! Again, however, this is a book series that at the time had as least 3 movie adaptations under its belt, with great anticipation for its final 2 movie parts for the final book in the saga, Breaking Dawn.
There was, however, another series that was packing a punch to the top of the lists. It was, of course, the Hunger Games. But wait - this was in February/ March 2011, a whole year or more before the recent Gary Ross directed hit movie adaptation. Why, I wondered, was there such hype and excitement for this Suzanne Collins penned trilogy?
Upon reading the blurb of the book, I already began to realise that this trilogy, despite many a cry of "Its the new Harry Potter/ Twilight!", was something new, original and different in comparison. At the time, in early 2011 in particular, you must understand that Waterstones Young Adult shelves were filled with vampire/ paranormal romance series, a trend started by the success of Twilight, and it had become a great deal harder to find something alternative to read. To find a story such as the Hunger Games was unbelievably exciting, and I did snap it up as soon as possible, giving in to a hype that was, I am now aware, only just beginning. Little did I know that a film was in production. A new phenomenon was born.
First published in September 2008 by Scholastic, The Hunger Games is an American novel following the story of Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old girl who lives in a post-apocalyptic North America, now known as the country of Panem. The nation of Panem is separated into 12 districts surrounding the Capitol, a metropolis which holds power over the nation. The Hunger Games refers to an annual event in which, selected through a lottery in an event called the reaping, one boy and one girl from each district between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen as 'tributes' to compete in a televised battle to the death until one victor of 24 remains. When Katniss, a resident of District 12, sees her young sister Primrose 'reaped' for inclusion in the 74th annual Hunger Games, desperate and distraught, she becomes District 12's first ever volunteer, volunteering in her sisters place. When a boy is next reaped, she finds herself competing against Peeta Mellark, a boy she refers to as 'the boy with the bread', whom had once aided her when she was starving. When they were both just 11 years old, he had burned bread in his father's bakery and received a slap from his mother to provide her with the food after seeing her in a terrible state. It is a good deed of which she feels she owes him for, a deed which makes their inevitable death fight all the more tragic.
Never have I found a book so addictive, before or since. I believe that one of the greatest attributes to this is that the book is written in the 1st person. We are brought to this frightening world through the eyes of Katniss, her every thought there for us to observe. Each chapter is left with a cliff-hanger, so hard it is to put the book down. I always note that the best books have the ability to leave me talking to myself, and upon several occasions, I rather embarrassingly found myself exclaiming such phrases as 'oh my God!', much shocked and enthralled by the events Suzanne Collins has brought to life through her writing. The fast pace of the book barely lets off, from start to finish comprising of action and yet allowing character development to ensue in suitable amounts.
The characters in the book are wonderful. Katniss Everdeen herself is a strong and remarkable young girl, far from a damsel in distress. She is a fast thinking, ever observant being, yet full of heart and as human as they come. Her bravery through devotion for her sister is inspiring, continuously proving to us that she is a fantastic role model for young readers. Most importantly, despite the nature of the contest, Katniss is presented to us as a character who wholey disagrees with the punishing events she finds herself surrounded by. She does not find enjoyment in harming others, and spends a great deal of time protecting those she cares about. A person for which her feelings are greatly confused is the hearty Peeta Mellark. After a certain shocking revelation, the dynamic between the two characters instantly changes. It is, however, not as straight forward as it may appear. Much like reality television shows such ase Big Brother, contestants find themselves having to play up to the audience. In the Hunger Games, getting the people of the Capitol to like them may result in sponsers. Sponsors are of the upmost importance in the games, and winning their support could mean the difference between life or death. A sponsor could, for example, provide the funding for a much needed medicine to cure an otherwise terminal injury or illness. Katniss believes that Haymich Abernathy, her mentor and former Hunger Games victor, has devised a plan for herself and Peeta to appear romantically involved to gain sympathy from the people of the Capitol. The situation that arises from this proves difficult, as Katniss struggles to understand just how much Peeta is playing along, and how he may instead be truthfully in love with her. As only one victor can survive the Hunger Games, this is the worst time for her to let her own feelings get wrapped up the wrong way. A plot such as this could easily have been cheesy, over-the-top and frankly ridiculous. Instead, the chemistry between the two characters, their background, the complexity of the situation and Peeta's charm and humour ensures it is constantly captivating and accessible no matter your age or gender.
Throughout the book, Katniss also refers back to her day to day life in District 12. She shares a deep friendship with Gale Hawthorne, an 18 year old boy whom she shares the sad understanding of life without a father, after both of their fathers were killed in a District 12 mining accident, the trade of her district. As much as she owes Peeta for her survival on the sad, desperate day he gave her the bread, Katniss also finds herself owing her life to Gale. Upon them meeting in the woods outside the borders of her district, which should be restricted by electric fences which she and Gale manage to pass, Gale has taught her to hunt. It is her hunting instincts which have often provided food on the table for her mother and sister, and her applaud able experience and technique with her beloved bow and arrow which may be her one and possible claim to her victory in the Hunger Games arena. The fact that the 74th Hunger Games arena appears as a woods is a constant reminder to the times she has spent with Gale. Of course, her played up relationship with Peeta is also complicated by her deep friendship with Gale. She questions how he would feel seeing the way she is acting with Peeta, and whether friendship is really the word to describe the great attachment she has with him. I have nothing against Gale as a character. He is likeable, that is true, but in many ways, at least in this first novel of the trilogy, I cannot help but find him uninteresting given the greater action surrounding the tale. Gale is scarcely involved with the actual events with the Hunger Games, in many ways, despite her District 12 life, seeming quite a pointless character. Please understand that it is hard to find fault with this novel, and this is just a minute and probably petty dispute of mine. It just seemed too apparent and forced for me that Collins was building a love triangle of sorts, which in the greater scale of things wasn't of great need.
If you have viewed the film and have not read the book, as often is the case with movie adaptations, some details were lost in the conversion from book to screen. Inside the book you will find such treats as the story of the avoxes, a further look at the danger and force posed by the Capitol. A character lost in the film is Madge, Katniss' friend and daughter of the mayor of District 12. It is Madge who gives Katniss her Mockingjay pin, a great symbol of the trilogy and film which you will often find printed on the covers and merchandise of the franchise. Despite the loss of these details among others, the same characters of Cinna, Katniss' stylist and the establisher of her nickname "The Girl on Fire", Effie Trinket, the chaperone of the District 12 tributes known for her eccentric dress sense and wigs, and Ceasor Flickerman, a Capitol television reporter and interview conductor with the tributes, who's hair and eyebrows are dyed a different colour for each annual Hunger Games, all appear with greater background and involvement.
Although this book and the rest of the trilogy feel very original throughout, comparisons are made to earlier books such as Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, a story of Japanese High School students being forced by their Government to compete in a deadly battle in which they must kill each other until there is only one student left, The Long Walk by Stephen King (under the pseudonym Richard Bachman), in which 100 teenage boys take part in an annual walking contest that if they do not keep up to speed with or within the rules of, may find themselves killed, and of course Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, in which a similar dystopian dictatorship rules.
The Hunger Games has also, in the same vein as the Twilight started vampire/ paranormal romance trend, created a new trend in young adult dystopian fiction. If you enjoyed such novels as Divergent by Veronica Roth and Delirium by Lauren Oliver, there is much for you to enjoy in the Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games is 464 pages long and currently retails in 3 physical formats on Amazon. The children's paperback edition is currently retailing at £3.86, the 'classic'/ adult paperback edition retails at £3.99 and the hardcover collectors edition currently retails at £9.90. Alternatively, an ebook may be purchased at £2.70 for Kindle. (Prices are as of May 2012.)
'The Hunger Games' is the first of a trilogy of novels written by Suzanne Collins. The two following books are 'Catching Fire' and 'Mockingjay.' This review focuses only on the first book.
'The Hunger Games' focuses on one main character called Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old girl from a country called Panem. Katniss lives with her sister and mother and spends a lot of her time hunting for food with her best friend Gale in order to provide for her family.
Panem is divided into 12 districts and the 'Capitol' which has control over the Districts. The Capitol is highly advanced and everyone who lives there has plentiful food and money and generally lives a privileged lifestyle. The 12 Districts are poor and underdeveloped in comparison.
In a previous time the Districts had a rebellion over the Capitol which resulted in the 13th District being destroyed and the other 12 Disctricts left with a yearly punishment: The Hunger Games.
In the Hunger Games one boy and one girl (aged between 12 and 18) from each District is randomly selected to compete in a highly televised battle which goes on until all but one child remains and is declared the 'Victor.' The Hunger Games take place in an outdoor arena which is controlled by the Capitol and the participants are expected to kill each other or get killed by the other elements in the arena (such as freezing temperatures or fire.)
At the the beginning of the book Katniss' 12 year old sister Primrose is randomly selected as the girl from District 12 who must compete, so Katniss steps up to take her place. The book tells the story (from the point of view of Katniss) of the preparations for The Games, The Games themselves, and afterwards.
I won't say anything else about the storyline as I don't want to spoil it, but I will give my opinions on the book.
First of all, this was the best book I've read in a long time. I read the whole book in one day because I just couldn't put it down and at the end of every chapter something happened to make me want to continue to the next one.
The storyline of this book is so original, very emotional, and shocking in parts-all of which add up to an interesting and compelling read.
There are some really likeable characters in this book, most notably the main character, Katniss, and another main character, Peeta. (Peeta is the boy who is chosen from District 12 to compete.) The characters are realistic and all have different personalities. Katniss is capable, brave, and tough, but doesn't come accross as too 'hard' due to her protective love for her younger sister. Peets is my favourite character as he's a very kind and good natured boy.
The end of this book left me wanting more so it'a a good job I had two more books to follow. As I'm sure you're aware, this book has recently been released as a film. I don't think I want to see it though because I much prefer books and I still haven't got over how rubbish I thought the Harry Potter films were compared to the books!
Definitely recommend this book.
Ok, due to the movie adaptation of this hugely popular book recently hitting cinemas it's hard for people to avoid mention of 'The Hunger Games'. At first I was wary of the hype, worrying that the book (and therefore the movie) couldn't possibly be as good as people were claiming. Eventually my housemate who is a big fan of the series lent me the first book to read and after much procrastination (and exams- no, really!) I took the book off the shelf, opened the first page...and was hooked for the next four hours!
'The Hunger Games' is set in a post-apocalyptic North America, now called Panem. The land is overseen by President Snow in the opulent Capitol, the big city in the Rocky Mountains, with the rest of the country is split into twelve districts. The main character is sixteen-year old Katniss Everdeen who lives in District 12; here, food is scarce and most people literally live on the breadline, so Katniss and her friend Gale hunt around the area to provide food for their families to stay alive.
One of Panem's annual traditions to enforce the Capitol's rule over the country is the titular Hunger Games- where two children from each district are picked as a 'tribute' to fight each other to the death, all of which is televised for TV. But on the day of the choosing Katniss's twelve-year old sister Prim is chosen, leading to Katniss volunteering herself as tribute to save her. Even though Katniss has seemingly little chance of winning the games, her hunting skills, mentors and the help of her fellow District 12 tribute Peeta bring out her determination to do so.
Firstly, 'The Hunger Games' in itself is a brilliant concept. There are a many post-apocalyptic stories where an oppressive state has emerged with huge divides between rich and poor, but the focus is more on these gladiatorial battles that combine obsession with reality tv and gladiatorial battles of the past, so it seems like something that could easily happen in the future (but hopefully won't). Granted this isn't a completely new idea (see Battle Royale) but it's still refreshing and the Hunger Games themselves are fascinating to learn about, because although there is quite a bit of exposition within the narrative it is essential to pay attention and doesn't usually distract from what is currently happening. The story is utterly compelling, as it holds the suspension in several small but impactful plot twists to keep us as much on our toes as the audience watching the Hunger Games in the world of Panem would be. Most chapters or sections end on total cliffhangers that made me not want to put the book down.
Furthermore the characters here are very realistic and all of them have their own personality and traits. Katniss herself is a fantastic narrator; Collins makes her snarky and serious and its reflected by her backstory as well as the way of live people have to lead in District 12, so she's easy to sympathize with, if not relate to. Equally colourful is the supporting cast, with characters like former Games Winner and alcoholic Haymitch, and the flamboyant mentor Effie. Even the citizens of District 12, whom we only hear about in the first few chapters, are fleshed out individuals. There are some romantic undertones between certain characters but they are either artificial (Katniss and Peeta are made to work as a couple to appeal to the audience for the Games) or not really developed, but to me that doesn't matter because the real meat of this story is the action. The potential for romance is left dangling at the end, at least left to be developed in the rest of the series.
I know it sounds like I'm jumping on the bandwagon but 'The Hunger Games' is a great book. Despite its post-apocalyptic setting the novel have themes that readers can easily learn about. It might be a bit too light a read (page-wise) for ages 25 and up, but as someone on the cusp of 20 I was thoroughly enjoyable without being too immature for my tastes. There is a lot of violence (obviously) so it's definitely not for the really young children.
You can find 'The Hunger Games' in most good bookshops in-store and online, with a RRP of £7.99.
(Review also on Ciao under the username Anti_W)
Released in America in 2008 as a book, I hadn't actually heard of The Hunger Games until I started seeing advertising for the film. I didn't know anything about it but soon dismissed seeing it when I heard it was aimed at teenagers. I haven't really got into any of the franchises aimed at teens such as Twilight so I figured I wouldn't like The Hunger Games, but when my best friend started telling me she couldn't put the book down and it was amazing I thought I should look into it more. As some of you will know from my recent iPad related reviews, I recently got an iPad and one of the first apps I downloaded was the Kindle. I have a few authors that I religiously follow but none of them had books released so when I kept seeing The Hunger Games book flash up, I thought I'd give it a try for £3.49. I was literally instantly hooked after about 4 pages, and knew I'd made the right decision. I read the book from start to finish in about 3 days, which for me is a rarity these days as I'm always so busy.
The thing that I loved most about this book is that the author Suzanne Collins has invented a whole new world. The concept although totally different in content, reminded me somewhat of Harry Potter. There are new words and ways of living, the names are all peculiar, and it is totally different to the world in which we live in today. When I first began reading the book I thought it was set in the past but actually although no specific reference is ever made, I believe it is set in the future after some kind of apocalyptic event. I may be wrong but this is my interpretation of it.
The book follows Katniss Everdeen who lives in the Seam, an area full of poverty. The area that was once known as South America is now home to Panem which houses 12 districts governed by The Capital. Every year, with a view to keeping the residents of the Districts aware of who is in control after the uprising known only as the 'Dark Days', The Capital send 12 boys and 12 girls into a live event known as The Hunger Games. The only rule is that only one can survive. The children are aged between 12 and 18 and the names are picked through a sadistic lottery system, with your name being entered once more on every birthday. The Districts are then eligible to bet on who they think will win, and the victor will win food and celebrations for a whole year for their District. The Hunger Games is a man-made arena brought to life by the sickening imaginations of the leaders of The Capital. It changes every year but the concept remains the same, give the contestants limited food, water and weapons and make them fight for survival. If they are unwilling to do that, they are forced through artificial forces such as a fire that pushes them all in one direction. The power of The Capital is not to be underestimated as they are able to instantly able to drain a lake or reduce the temperature to freezing. Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives. In the ruins of a place once known as North America
The Hunger Games are televised for all to see and it is mandatory for all residents to watch the coverage, disobedience is punishable by death. For the poverty stricken who must watch their own children (or children they will inevitably know) die it is harrowing viewing, but for the wealthy residents of the Capital it is entertainment. Katniss is used to having to survive, after the death of her beloved father, she has become the one that her mother and younger sister must rely on to feed them and keep them safe, so when her younger sisters name is pulled to enter The Hunger Games, Katniss makes a decision that will change her life forever.
This particular book (it is a trilogy) pretty much starts on the day of the Reaping, which is the day (celebrated as almost a public holiday to be celebrated) that the children are chosen from each district through a lottery system. We are given a little bit of background information on Katniss and the kind of life she leads, all of which is quite tragic and you instantly warm to Katniss.
The concept of the book is difficult to describe without making it sound extremely violent but it really isn't the case, when I tried to explain to my mum about the book, she said it sounded awful, children killing one another, but it really isn't written in a violent way, and is more about outsmarting one another and intelligence. Suzanne Collins strikes me as a particular intelligent lady. The way she has written this book is excellent, and the moments of sadness are balanced out by the quirky characters such as Katniss' stylist Cinna, or drunk Haymitch. There are also moments of warmth as feisty Katniss gets close to Peeta, the bakers son. There is a good mix of characters, who Suzanne Collins explains in such a way that you can instantly picture them in your head.
This is the best book that I have read in a long time and I instantly bought the second and third books. I can only give this book 5 stars, there is no other rating justifiable for the book. The fact that it deals with poverty and war in such a compassionate way is commendable. Amazing.
The Times: 'At its best the trilogy channels the political passion of 1984, the memorable violence of A Clockwork Orange, the imaginative ambience of The Chronicles of Narnia and the detailed inventiveness of Harry Potter. The specifics of the dystopian universe and the fabulous pacing of the complicated plot, give the books their strange, dark charisma.'
A New York Times Bestseller.
The first young adult author to sell over 1 million kindle copies.
I was late to the bandwagon with this series, since I'm always a bit suspicious of the current "big thing". Whenever I've dabbled in the latest bestsellers, I've usually come away disappointed. With the recent film having piqued my interest, though, I thought I'd make an exception and see what the fuss was about, aiming to read the whole trilogy before seeing the film. "The Hunger Games" is the first volume, followed by "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay", and they retail for under £4.00 each on Amazon.
I came to this book pretty sceptical, expecting a sanitised American "Battle Royale" thing - which it is, in basic terms - but there's more to Collins' setting than just that. Her unforgiving futuristic dystopia is called Panem, where twelve Districts exist to serve the wealthy, decadent Capitol. As a yearly warning against rebellion, the Capitol chooses one boy and one girl from each of the poorer Districts, pitting them against each other in a propagandist fight to the death: the Hunger Games.
As the title suggests, there's a whole lot of hunger in the Hunger Games. Everyone is hungry, all the damn time, and before long it's the Hunger and Dehydration Games. It's more than a mere gladiatorial match: to keep the action rolling, the arena is huge and heavily trapped, and the "tributes" must fight for food, water, resources, and geographical advantage, as well as against each other. The Games are broadcast across Panem, blow by blow; if tributes put on a good show and gain popularity with the masses, they're more likely to gain sponsors and be sent gifts to help them survive. The last tribute standing is the victor, days or even weeks later. There's a big satirical swipe at our own reality television in there; Collins is no Orwell, but the subtext adds a bit of weight and topical relevance to the story.
Our heroine is Katniss Everdeen, a teenage girl from the poor mining city of District 12. She's tough, and a survivor, often sneaking out of the District to hunt game for her family, but nothing could have prepared her for ending up as a tribute in the Hunger Games. She's trained, manicured, waxed, beautified, fitted with extravagant clothes, told how to impress the cameras, and hyped up as a juvenile superstar by the people about to send her into the arena. It's a cruel game, before the real Games have even begun, and the stoic, uncharismatic Katniss must learn fast how to give the Capitol the show it wants.
Once the actual Hunger Games start, the pages just fly by. There's action, tension, moral dilemmas and thrilling conflict galore. I didn't find it as shocking and violent as some readers do - I've certainly read more gruesome Young Adult fiction before - but it's still sufficiently grim and threatening. Though it starts off steadily, the book really hits its stride once the Games begin.
Collins' writing is competent and highly readable, if plain. Katniss' view is a good vantage point for the action, though she comes across as too detached and wooden at times, and just downright obnoxious at others. Simply writing a book in first-person doesn't make a character relatable - they have to have a real personality, which Katniss doesn't seem to. The rest of the cast are quite two-dimensional and nothing special, instead made interesting by the nightmare scenario into which they're thrown. For the most part, though, Collins' unadorned style helps the story rattle along at a great pace despite the stilted characters and slightly awkward present tense. The ending clearly sets the reader up for the next book, but I think the first volume stands well on its own.
"The Hunger Games" isn't perfect or groundbreaking - I wouldn't call it the next Harry Potter, since a franchise of that scale happens once in a blue moon - but it's nonetheless a bright star in current YA fiction. It's a quick and lightweight read, but if you look deeper than the text it can yield a lot of food for discussion. I feel like I haven't fully bought into it, but I did genuinely enjoy it, far more than I expected to. Take the hype with a pinch of salt, but it's definitely worth checking out.
This is a review of the 2008 book 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins. It is listed as young adult (YA) fiction but I think it is perfectly suited to adult reading as well. Thanks to fellow dooyooer Jo1976 for swapping this book! I read it in 24 hours and just couldn't put it down. The Hunger Games is part one of a trilogy of books and I can't wait to read the next book in the series now too.
A bit about...
The book follows 16 year old Katniss Everdeen in her dystopian world. A world where the state dictates and those found rebelling are killed. Katniss supports her mother and sister following the untimely death of her father and she scales the boundary and beyond of her sector hunting for wild rabbits and nuts and berries that she can trade and sell in the black market to keep her family alive. She teams up with hunting partner Gale (a slightly older male friend) to help improve safety and increase their haul.
Moving swiftly on
The book moves swiftly on to the Hunger Games, a reality cum war game show that uses sacrificial volunteers, all children from all the sectors to take part in this bloodthirsty killing game. It's the state's way of telling the people that they are in charge and they will do as they are told. The families have no choice whether their children take part and it's made worse by the token system, where poor children trade food for more tokens which increase their chance of being selected for the annual games.
The games - Kill or be killed
"May the odds ever be in your favour" shouts Effie Trinket, the organiser of the Games as she prepares to draw the names for sector 12 at the annual reaping ceremony. It's the 74th year of the games and Katniss volunteers immediately to take place of her younger sister when she is selected from the macabre live draw. Her male counterpart is chosen from sector 12 at the same time, Peeta, the local bakers boy who is kind and gentle and appears to have feelings for Katniss. The 24 'tributes' from the 12 sectors are taken to the Games film set which is a giant valley set differently each year, from desert to woodlands and each year there are different traps and tricks from the production company. The last one alive wins, it's a simple as that. When they arrive they can either grab resources and fight or run and hide. What would you do?
I don't really want to say a lot more about what happens in the book as it would spoil it for those who want to read it. Katniss is a strong character who has to learn a lot in a short space of time. She has good survival skills and is used to living off the land which is a great advantage in the games. There's also something about Katniss that makes people want to help her and she does well during the games because of this. She is light on her feet, wary and observational with some useful knowledge about what plants and animals you can and can't eat. Peeta is strong and gentle and abhors the idea of killing a fellow tribute, no matter how nasty they are. He tries to play a strategic game in the name of survival but his emotions are his weak point. Katniss sways between her feelings for him. Does she like or love him? What is holding her back? Would she be able to kill Peeta in order to win the Hunger Games?
The immediate problems of being stuck in the game are quickly and immediately addressed. Keeping warm and well is important, as is eating and drinking fresh water. Then there is the issue of being on guard constantly and covering your back. It is clever of the organisers to keep a death toll on the games by sounding a cannon and projecting the face of the deceased each night into the sky so that the contestants can keep track of their status and position.
The book does jump around a little bit as Katniss gets lost in thoughts and explains a bit more about the world she lives in. Whilst it appears quite desperate, as the book progresses and her life is in danger you realise she is quite happy with her lot in life pre-games and makes the best of a bad situation. She tells stories from school and from the past where she has been close to starving that help to form a bigger picture around her (and others') character.
There is a bit of new language used in the book. Whilst we are not sure of the year it is set in, it feels like it is in the future as it describes the meltdown, subsequent rebellion and the reasons why the leading powers in the Capitol are so harsh to the people that live there. Genetics play a part in some of the super animals that are in the book, from the birds and bees to wolf like monsters, most are sent to terrorise the contestants. It is not really sci-fi in its language so it is easy to understand and quite obvious what a lot of the references are.
I thought the 'sponsors' angle of the book was quite strange and offered a few get out of jail cards. If a contestant is popular they will attract sponsors and they can get small gifts parachuted in at a huge cost to the sponsor (and profit to the production). When medication is desperately needed, it arrives via parachute and becomes a miracle cure to Katniss. When she behaves according to how the show want to be she is rewarded with special food. I just didn't really buy this in the context of the cruel game. However, I loved reading this book and read it quickly in 24 hours. In fact it made me have a quite vivid dream that was a bit scary!
I can see how this book would work really well as a film and surprise, surprise, it is being released in cinemas 23 March. I think I will need to go and see it but hope I am not disappointed. I think this makes a nice change from all the vampire books and movies that have been flooding the market and would really recommend this book to most people. It is not childish and is a rapid page turner. I will be seeking out the other books in the trilogy without a doubt. I really enjoyed reading this (thanks Jo!) and can't wait for the next one.
As the launch of the first Hunger games film fast approaches I thought I'd take the opportunity to get myself up to date.
Now, I admit I have a bit of an identity crisis at times, although my teens are definitely a thing of the past I keep reading these books aimed at people who are still in them.
The Hunger Games has been billed by some as the new Twilight, and while I'm not entirely sure that the books are that, they are well worth a read on their own merit.
So the premise...
Katniss lives in a version of our world that is recognisable but very different. It is now spilt into twelve districts which are ruled over by the Cornucopia, where the ruling classes live. Living in District 12 is seen as being the bottom of the ladder but Katniss ekes out a life with her mother and sister following her father's demise in a mining accident.
However, every year something called the Hunger Games takes place. Two representatives, or tributes, from each district take part in a battle to win food and comfort.. a battle literally to the death. When Katniss's sister Prim is chosen she feels she has no chance but to stand in her place.. and there the story really begins.
Along with Peeta, her fellow District 12 tribute, her mental and physical strength are tested to the limit as she fights to survive at the expense of the other tributes. Only one can be the winner, and only one can leave the arena alive!
I have to admit, when I first started reading I was well aware that I was reading a piece of teen fiction and wondered what I had got myself into. However, when Katniss and Peeta are both selected, or reaped, the story really gets going.
The excitement of the games is balanced by a sweet romance between Katniss and Peeta, though I have to admit I did wonder if he was a bit too sweet at times!
The story also raises some questions about our present reality TV obsession, how far would we go?
'1984', 'Brave New World', 'V for Vendetta', 'A Clockwork Orange' and now 'The Hunger Games'. I am fascinated by novels which present a vision of a dystopian society.
'The Hunger Games' presents a post-apocalyptic vision of a North America, tainted by humanity's past mistakes, it is little like North America as we know it. Divided into 12 districts, it forms the land of Panem and is ruled by an oppressive government called the Capitol.
The ultra-futuristic Capitol is a despotic seat of power and indulgence. Whilst the Capitol residents fuss over their lives of luxury and up and coming fashions, citizens within the districts work hard and struggle to get by, some dying of starvation in the streets. To add to their suffering, each year the Capitol holds its annual 'Hunger Games', a reminder of the prevailing power of the Capitol after the districts rebelled against them many generations ago.
Each district must put forward two 'tributes', a boy and a girl aged between 12 and 18 to fight to the death within the Hunger Games arena. In true 'Big Brother' fashion, the games are broadcast live to every part of the state for everyone to see. There can only be one winner, who shall be renowned throughout Panem for their victory. The losers, however, can only face one eventuality - death.
'The Hunger Games' caught my attention last year when I heard that this bestselling book was to be adapted into a film to be released this coming March. I heard great things about it and there seemed to be a lot of hype generated by the media and other authors. Stephanie Meyer claimed to be 'obsessed' with this book and declared it 'amazing'. Now I'm not sure she is in a place to judge what makes quality literature (sorry Twi-fans). It's like when the Daily Star raves about the latest action blockbuster. I just don't trust it. Nevertheless, I decided to treat myself to the trilogy box set just before Christmas and whatever my opinions may be about the Twilight author, she was right about this book. It IS amazing...
*~'HAPPY HUNGER GAMES! MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOUR~*
The story is told from the first person perspective of Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen year old girl from District 12 who has not had an easy life. Her father died during a mine accident when she was young and with her mother numb with grief, she was forced to help feed her family and keep her mother and her little sister Prim alive.
Every year, each district has to face the annual 'reaping' for the Hunger Games, a lottery where every eligible district child has their name entered at least once to be considered for participation. It's all in the luck of the draw. However, some children have their names entered in more than once in exchange for extra grain and oil for their families. Katniss is one of them but, fiercely protective of her sister, will only let Prim's name be entered once in the run up to the annual reaping. It is therefore a great shock when, against all odds, it is Prim's name that is drawn for the games. Katniss, desperate and fearful, runs forward to take her sister's place as tribute. Fully aware that this could be a death sentence upon her, she makes a promise to her little sister that she'll come out of the games alive and victorious. A borne survivor who has battled to keep herself and her family alive all those years, Katniss must now face the ultimate test of survival in the Hunger games.
*~A NOVEL I COULDN'T PUT DOWN~*
From the very beginning 'The Hunger Games' is a compelling read, which I really struggled to put down. There really is nothing more satisfying than finding yourself a book which you become hooked on. I ended up reading into the wee hours of the morning just to find out what is going to happen next and had to force myself to put it down when I realized I was probably going to struggle to get up for work the next day. Those types of books don't come around very often.
The novel is certainly an easy read with a style that is easy to digest. It's true it's no literary masterpiece but it doesn't need to be and just because it isn't doesn't mean it's not well-written. Its simple style, devoid of literary tropes, makes for a very effective adventure novel. Fantastically fast-paced at points, it draws you into the action. I couldn't get enough of it. Just when I said I would read one chapter more, I ended up reading another five.
When Katniss is chosen to be a tribute, Peeta Mellark, the son of a baker in district 12, is chosen to be the male tribute. Both Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capitol to prepare for the games. When they get there, it is clear that it is all a show. She is designated a prep team to 'beautify' her and dress her up. Like the other tributes they must train, give interviews and parade about in extravagant costumes. For a period of time they are pampered, eat good food and live a life of luxury in the Capitol. However, before long they must meet the harsh reality of the games where they must kill each other to come out alive...
*~KATNISS, THE GIRL WHO WAS ON FIRE~*
One thing I love about this novel are the great dynamics within the story, particularly those between particular characters. I was surprised by the depth of the characters within Suzanne Collin's novel. In a story where individuals must fight to the death, I expected a high degree of two-dimensionality. And whilst we cannot get to know every tribute in the games, you gain quite an insight into the personalities of many of the characters. Characterization is one of the strong points of the novel. Collins creates characters you can truly care about and the odd character which you can love to hate.
Katniss herself is quite the heroine. All throughout her life she has suffered true hardship and has really fought to keep herself and her family alive. She demonstrates strength in everything she does which she carries with her to the Hunger Games. It is great to find a female character who is so admirable and inspiring to young girls in terms of strength and resilience.
There are a lot of people out there who seem eager to compare this novel and its characters to the Twilight series. However, I would argue that the only thing these novels share is success within the young adult genre. Katniss, in opinion is a much better role model for young girls than Bella from Twilight will ever be. I found Bella to be quite a weak and pathetic character, allowing her 'love' for Edward to take her to the point of self-destruction.
Of course, 'The Hunger Games', like the Twilight series, has its own love triangle as Katniss battles with her feelings for Gale, her friend back home and Peeta, her fellow district 12 contestant. However, this is a romance that is quite often sidelined throughout the whole series to take into consideration other more important issues. This is quite a refreshing change to novels like Twilight. Katniss doesn't constantly launch into internal monologues describing her love and adoration for the men in her life. She has more important matters to deal with. There is, after all, more to her life than her feelings towards certain young men...
This is probably why I found Peeta to be one of the weakest characters in the first book of the series. Katniss met Gale when she was a girl and they quickly became hunting partners helping one another to feed their families. Spending all this time together hunting, it would make sense that they could grow to love one another. Katniss's fondness for Peeta, however, stems back to an act of kindness when she and her family were starving and he gave her some bread. In the Hunger Games arena, their relationship grows but I just didn't find Peeta an all too convincing love interest. This may very well be intentional because towards the beginning of the book their apparent 'love' for one another seems to be nothing but a show for the cameras to help them win the games. Nevertheless, it just further proves my point that this book is not all about love interests and romantic relations. Peeta and Katniss's relationship is drawn out and explored further in later books. In the first book, there are a lot more important matters to care about.
There are a whole host of other great characters which you come across when reading this novel. As she is preparing for the games she meets some characters from the Capitol. Larger than life, they live a sheltered life in the capitol with their bizarre fashions and cosmetic enhancements. One such Capitol character she meets is Effie Trinket. When Katniss first meets Effie she is the announcer of the tributes for district 12 and escort to the chosen tributes. With her pinkish hair and outrageous dress sense, she is a true Capitol citizen. Training as a tribute in the capitol, Katniss grows sickened by Capitol indulgences but at the same time grows sympathetic. This is all Effie and other Capitol citizens know. They don't understand what it means to struggle every day to get by. All they have to worry about is what Lady Gaga-esque couture is in fashion that year...
When Katniss begins the Hunger Games, this is when you really get to know some of the other tributes from the districts. One such tribute is the little 12 year old Rue. She ends up joining forces with Katniss and they take care of each other for a while. By getting to know some of the characters like Rue, this not only makes the story more interesting but makes the deaths of some of the characters all the more weightier.
For the Capitol the Hunger Game is just a sport and anyone could die. It is a blood sport of the cruellest kind...
*~'BATTLE ROYALE FOR THE TWILIGHT GENERATION'?~*
Whilst some people may be eager to compare the novel to Twilight, a more obvious comparison can be made with Battle Royale, a Japanese novel and film set in a totalitarian state where a group of schoolchildren are forced to battle to the death. Some have claimed that the Hunger Games is a mere rip off of Battle Royale. The similarities are clear and at times The Hunger Games can be quite violent although certainly not as gratuitously violent as Battle Royale.
Suzanne Collins claims that the idea for 'The Hunger Games' was borne without knowledge of this Japanese story. She claims the idea came to her when she was channel surfing, coming across footage of people competing in a reality show and footage of the Iraq war. She took the idea of a battle and a reality show and put them both together to come up with the idea of the Hunger Games.
Whether, the novel was inspired by Battle Royale or not I don't think it really matters as I think it's quite different from Battle Royale in a lot of respects and a thoroughly entertaining read.
All throughout the novel you develop the feeling that Katniss is not just up against the other tributes but is up against the might of the Capitol. She may come across ruthless and violent tributes like the killing machines Cato and Clove but you get the strong impression that it is the Capitol that is the real villain in the whole piece. This is an idea that sets up the premise for the rest of the trilogy.
The Hunger Games may share similarities with Battle Royale but it has its own characters, its own story and its own version of a harsh totalitarian state.
*~'THE PERFECT ADVENTURE NOVEL'~*
The Hunger Games stands out as one of the best young adult novels that I have read. One critic referred to it as a perfect adventure novel and I couldn't agree more. The book itself is an exhilarating page turner that constantly captures your interest. The characters are rich and interesting, the story is dynamic and the writing style means that it is perfectly paced.
It is an adventure and science fiction novel with a little bit of romance interspersed between. However, Suzanne Collins doesn't let the romance take over. In fact, as I've said before, the love story that runs through the plot seems to pale in significance when you compare it to the rest of the action.
Collins has produced an exciting novel which had me reaching for its sequel as soon as I'd finished it. Battle Royale for the Twilight generation it certainly is not! In fact, this is a novel which is a lot worthier than Twilight with a strong female protagonist whom I hope will be a lot more inspiring to any young women out there.
*~AVAILABILITY~*: You'll have no problem finding this book anywhere. I got my box set for £11.98 on Amazon although it looks like it's gone up in price since then (£14.98. Must be all the hype generated by the film...)
*~FILM RELEASE~*: 23rd March 2012 in the UK. I can't wait and Jennifer Lawrence seems like the perfect choice to play Katniss!
*~LOOK OUT FOR...~* The marketing team for the Hunger Games film have made a Tumblr page entitled 'Capital Couture'. It's a fun little piece of publicity for the film (and the password for it is #lookyourbest)
*~Thank you for reading my review :-) Also published on Ciao under username Renza - Feb 2012~*