Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publish Date: September 14, 2008
Genre: YA, dystopian
Series: The Hunger Games
1. The Hunger Games
2. Catching Fire (September 1, 2009)
3. Mockingjay (August 24, 2010)
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
I know so many people who have read THE HUNGER GAMES and loved it, that when I picked it up I was kind of nervous about not loving it. It’s more common that, if the general public loved it, I’ll love it too, but I was still worried.
I was most surprised by how much “before the Hunger Games” there was: the reaping, the parade, the training, etc. I expected it to get to the Games pretty quickly. The before stuff was still good, it really gave us a good chance to see the Capitol as a whole and the role that they played in the story. It was also a great time to lay character foundations. I think that the whole first half of the book is evidence that THE HUNGER GAMES is not a stand-alone novel. There’s just too much setting up for it to get far enough into the story that it’ll be done at the end of 374 pages.
The fact that Collins did spend so much time in character and plot development really is a plus. It definitely gives the reader time to connect to the characters. Even though we don’t see Gale for long, we know that he’s the most loyal best friend there is. And through the things Katniss remembers about Prim and her mother, we can definitely see what kind of people they are. Other characters like Haymitch and Cinna all add their own elements to the story.
Katniss herself was a very strong female lead. Her main goal is to stay alive, and you can’t have any flimsy girly-girl in an arena with 23 other tributes, fighting for her life. Katniss was the perfect heroine. Peeta was a great character, too. Although he seems half-useless in the Games, you can also tell he’s a really great guy. What I loved about him was how he cared so deeply, and seemed like a genuine human being throughout the novel. No matter what the Capitol, or anyone else, threw at him I always felt like he was an honest, caring person.
Since the majority of the book was about Katniss fighting for her life, there really wasn’t a chance to develop much romance. It’s constantly in the undercurrent because of their strategy, but any real romantic connection between Katniss and Peeta seems improbable and far-fetched. But I understand that. Either way, I’d almost like to announce myself as Team Peeta, but I feel like we aren’t far enough into the love story to make any definitive conclusions ;).
Overall, THE HUNGER GAMES is a whirlwind of a story that takes you on the incredible journey of a girl fighting to live. Although the pacing makes it evident that this novel is the first in a series, there is a lot that happens. It’s definitely the perfect beginning to a series. I’m pretty excited to see how the story is going to continue.