Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen has grown up with the threat of the Hunger Games ever-present in her mind, just another fact of life in the dreary Districts. When her little sister turns twelve, Katniss reassures herself that she cannot possibly be chosen for the Games during her first year of eligibility -- the odds are impossible. But when the unfathomable comes to pass, Katniss doesn't stop to think. She volunteers herself to enter the Games in her sister's place, fully expecting that this decision means forfeiting her life. As she faces an unknown number of days trapped in the arena with 23 other children, fighting to the death so that their district won't go hungry for another year, Katniss has no idea what awaits -- but she has something that the others don't: someone to live for.

Put simply, this novel will be a classic someday. Suzanne Collins' world-building is incredible. Though set in the future, the landscape is bleakly primitive and sets the tone immediately. The premise is disturbingly plausible - like reality TV run amok. Collins holds no punches, launching the reader straight into the midst of this harsh, unfeeling world. Within the first 50 pages, readers will already be moved to tears. Collins' writing deftly evokes the powerful, gut-wrenching emotions of this world and draws the reader heart and soul into Katniss's story. Katniss truly makes the novel what it is with her rare, awe-inspiring courage and incredible selflessness, all while seeming utterly and entirely real. Her complexity and bravery are beautiful to watch. Unlike many modern heroines, Katniss is resourceful and independent; she is a survivor, raised by an uncaring world, but still possessing the capacity for compassion. Katniss has a dark edge to her personality that stands in beautiful juxtaposition with her compassionate nature. She is not fearless, but she is brave in the face of her fear which is even more admirable. Her complexity is astounding, and Collins expertly paints a portrait of the internal struggle between her strong sense of justice and her survival instinct, her knowledge of what she must do. The way Collins carefully prevents Katniss from becoming a monster in her fight for survival is brilliant, and one of the most nuanced aspects of the book. Katniss Everdeen is truly the best heroine I've ever read.

While readers may get caught up in Katniss's saga, Collins repeatedly brings the story abruptly back to the stark reality of the Games -- never letting them forget what's at stake. The Hunger Games is a complex psychological novel and constantly keeps the reader on their toes, as though they were playing the Games alongside Katniss. The tight narration befits the topic; there is something calculating about the tone and pacing that is wonderfully fitted to the theme. There is an unsettling correlation between the entertainment value of the novel and the entertainment value of the Games that brings the reality of Katniss's world to life in a devastatingly vivid way. Everything in this world is so uncertain -- feelings, events, even life itself. Though it is initially tempting to make absolute judgments, Collins does not make her world that easy or black and white -- not everyone at the Capital is evil, not everyone in this world is heartless. The one aspect of the novel that felt contrived was resolved by the end, and left me utterly enthralled with the sheer genius of Collins' work. The Hunger Games is the most thought-provoking piece of fiction I've ever read. I turned the last page months ago, and I still can't stop thinking about it.

Rating: 


Click here to purchase The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

32 comments:

the Vintage Bookworm said...

I am so glad I'm not the only one who has started this book late.

I am currently reading this and it is fantastic. I'm almost done with it and I'm extremely sad that I don't have a copy of the second book. :(

Going to have to find me a copy soon. :)

When I received this from the publisher a long while ago when the second book was about to be released, I took one look at it and set it aside. I hadn't asked for it and was really put off by the cover and the summary didn't sound like something I'd read.

But I finally decided to give in and try and read it after seeing the book everywhere.

I'm glad you liked it. Your review was perfect and summed it up very well. :)

BLHmistress said...

I have heard wonderful things and you just sealed it with me I must get this series. Thanks for the great review. Happy Monday.

danya said...

Fantastic review, Casey! I really like you connected the entertainment value of the novel with that of the Games - a good point that I hadn't thought about in such clear terms. I agree, Collins does an excellent job of making Katniss someone the reader can cheer for without letting her become, as you say, a monster.

Gina said...

Hi, I'm not big into leaving comments (in part because my spelling and grammar is horrendous), I have to say, this is one of the BEST reviews I've read for this book. Even though your review is only for the first book, it very eloquently describes the entire series (and with no spoilers!). I work for a book store and got the first two books for as ARCs (didn't actually read them until about 4 months after the release date for the second book, but then finished both in 8 hours straight). My biggest problem in describing them to new readers was "...but...” You know the feeling?...'It's about this, but...' Collin's grasp of the shades of grey in an initially VERY black and white world (and probably to some, still a B&W world) is phenomenal--and your review is the best I've read/seen in putting the combination of both the simplicity and complexities of her world into your own words. IMO your review is one of the few worthy of the book/series.
P.S.I love the fact that Collins stuck to her guns (or shades of grey) through the conclusion and not whitewashing it. You summed it up best in, “Put simply, this novel will be a classic someday.” I look fwd to your reviews.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I've been wanting to read this series, but just too many other books came first LOL

Kat said...

The Hunger Games is truly a modern classic, an epic, epic story that I, along with the rest of the world, simply loved. This is an excellent review-- you outlined all that it is great and addictive about the Hunger Games. Read Catching Fire yet?

Midnyte Reader said...

This was a really great review and very well worded. It is hard to describe what the Hunger Games is about...it's not really I would pick up based on the story, but once I did pick it up I could not put it down. I'm on the 2nd one now and I feel the same way.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

It was fun to read your thoughts on this book - one I loved as well.

Aylee said...

Yay, I'm glad you loved it! I really enjoyed reading this and I totally agree.

Aubrey said...

I read this series this summer and it could be one of the best novels I have ever read. I completely agree that it will be a classic some day. I know that English teachers all over country are starting to read it in their classrooms.

melannie skoob said...

If only Katniss had stayed the hero she was in The Hunger Games...

*sad sigh*

MamaSeal said...

Great review! This is one of my favorite series with Mocking Jay being the best of the series IMO. I've read so many parts of that book so many times, oh who am I kidding I've gone back and read all three, but Mocking Jay is still my favorite of the three.

Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

So glad you loved this book! :) I really enjoyed it myself. I agree this is going to be a classic. I introduced it to a very good friend of mine and now both her kids have read the book. And we just keep telling more and more about it. :)

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments!

Gina -- that is one of the nicest comments I've ever gotten =) Thank you! I actually put off writing this review because I knew this book was too good for words, so what you said really means a lot to me!

Diana said...

Great review! I think The Hunger Games is the best book for kids.
I really can wait to see the movie.

JellyBear7 said...

Loved this book! I agree with you on Katniss being the best heroine. I really enjoyed the entire Hunger Games series, eventhough I was a little disappointed with Mockingjay.

nfmgirl said...

Wonderful review AND a wonderful book! I loved this entire series. Isn't it a shame that all series must come to an end?

Karen Senoo said...

Great review, sounds amazing! I'm eager to read this book but can't find time to do so. Still have over 20 books to go first :P

@Tibiux

Lexie said...

This is defnitely on my list of favorite reads. It is an amazing book and got hooked on the dystopian genre because of it. I agree with you that Collins is so clever and realistic in not painting the world black and white because that is the way our world is too.

Vivien said...

I absolutely loved this novel. My favorite of the 3. It was just to die for.

Llehn said...

I agree. This book is going to be a classic.

Rabid Fox said...

Wow. High praise. I do have this on my wish list, but I've never bothered to take that extra step in getting it. I think it's because it's one of a series, and I'm already knee deep in quite a few series right now. Still, it sounds fantastic.

Moirae(thefates) book reviews said...

I am the only book blogger I know that hasn't read this series yet!
Glad you liked it!

Lane

barmybex said...

This is one of those books I never thought I would like, but it turned out that I loved it and am so glad I read it and am hooked. It has climbed right up my list of favourite books and I recommend it to everyone.
I agree, this will one day be a 'classic'

Syki said...

Thanks for this review :) I didn't read it... yet... but everybody told me that these books are awesome! So when I will have enough time to read it... I definitely will :)

Jennifer said...

I heart this series so much.

I started reading it last summer and raced through it. Then waited for Mockingjay and read it. Such a wonderful series. I cannot wait to see this as a movie. I really hope they get the casting right!

Triss said...

I consider this serie a classic already. It was the first markable dystopian book. And look what's coming now - Delirium, Matched, Wither and more more more. And they dream to gain the attention like Hunger Games.

krazzyme said...

I <3 this book!!!!!!!!!!!
mockingjay ruined the series for me (just saying)

I'M WAITING FOR THE MOVIE TRAILER!!!!!

Evie said...

This book is great and so well written. I read an ebook copy but I really want the actual book now.
I didn't like Mockingjay that much but Catching Fire is my favorite of the trilogy.

Carina L. Tai said...

The Hunger Games was absolutely AMAZING! It's what got me completely hooked on dystopian lit! great review!

-Carina
http://dystopiandesserts.blogspot.com/

Lazy Girl said...

Omg , could NOT AGREE WITH YOU MORE. I just finished this book last week and I am having so much trouble getting through any other book. I cannot stop thinking about this story and I must read the rest of the series before I read anything else. Loved the way you worded this, it's sort of what I was trying to say in my review haha.

xo,
Lah

Miranda @ My Eclectic Bookshelf said...

OMG I loved this whole series, after I read Hunger Games I had to get the others so I could find out the whole story. I cried, laughed, screamed and cried some more when I read this. Love seeing others viewpoints, and totally agree, I can't stop thinking about it either and I read it weeks ago.

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