I THINK I got The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, as a gift. The book being one-third of a brand-new boxed set supports that assumption.
I have a confession to make: I have a lot of books. I’m not 100% sure where I got them all. (I can’t bring my wallet into bookstores, nor wander off on my own. It’s for my own protection!)
That’s why I think this fancy set was a present. I can’t afford nice books.
Goodreads, my favorite site for tracking what I’ve read, what I’m dying to read, and links to my reviews, lists this set as one book for some reason. It demands (well, “gives me space for” is more accurate) a single review covering all three books. Obviously, I’m writing three separate posts.
Ah, wait! Don’t thank me yet! I have – as always – too much to say about this series. You might want to get comfy, and settle in for a long read.
I had to deal with spoilers for a long time. I don’t think there are spoilers here, but anything is possible.
Read more: BOOK REVIEW: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I need to start by saying: Part of me really wanted to hate this book. Maybe because it’s so popular? As I mentioned, I had to deal with MANY spoilers.
Of course, that’s my fault for waiting forever to read insanely popular books. Long enough that they were made into insanely popular movies. The ads were everywhere.
In the end, I did like The Hunger Games. The language is straight-forward with a lot of action-based adverbs. Right from page one, Collins builds an amazing world we’ve never seen.
What’s more, she makes readers understand and sympathize with her characters. Because the world she creates is plausible, it’s frighteningly familiar.
(It doesn’t help that I was reading this when the COVID-19 pandemic started, Trump was destroying everything, and the U.S. separating into 12 Districts sending children to their deaths sounded possible as heck.)
Katniss Everdeen, the main protagonist, is a complex character, and it makes her hauntingly human. She’s full of teenage anger at a hard, painful life. Her fury towards her mother’s depression struck me as less than reasonable, but understandable. Especially, again, given her age.
To me, people around her seemed to want to “harness” her anger for their own purposes. The Gamemakers want a good show, Cinna and other workers want rebellion. Haymitch, the alcoholic Hunger Games champion for District 12, wants to stop seeing these children die.
There are also times when Katniss acts like a straight-up brat. Her imperfect personality is both endearing and annoying. Sometimes, her ferocity rings of low self-esteem instead of the situation at hand.
Like her or not, she finds herself in situations describing our worst nightmares. Collins shows how a multi-faceted person might react to the horror around them. She created a character who both plays – and is played by – the Hunger Games.
The book falls into the dreaded “love-triangle” cliché found in many Young Adult stories, however. It pits Peeta, District 12’s male tribute, against Kat’s best friend back home, Gale.
Much like other characters, whose traumas shape and maim them, we become attached to both love interests. Gale is brave, hard-working, selfless, and has proven himself trustworthy. Peeta is generous, sweet, and he seems to like Kat. He treats her well, even before the coaches encourage a fake relationship for the show.
Ultimately, The Hunger Games shows a world with an angry, powerless girl is trying to figure out who – if anyone – she can trust. The relationships she builds with characters are moving, and I’ll admit that I teared up when some died.
4 out of 5 stars!
In The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins turns blank pages into a world so vivid it seems real. She peoples it with individuals who are mostly sympathetic. Many are flawed, if not warped, by horrible circumstances. I was able to imagine unique settings and people, despite seeing snippets for years.
The twists, turns, and reality-TV-like “sudden rule changes” of the Hunger Games made it hard to put the book down. It also shows the author’s skills in bringing out the full range of emotions in her characters.
I didn’t care for the love triangle business, but it’s very popular in Young Adult literature. I think the dystopian setting make Katniss’s dating choices bear the weight of life and death consequences. That’s certainly how some teenagers feel about their first loves!
Now, I’m going to go start working my reviews for the rest of The Hunger Games series. Collins leaves us with a lot of drive to keep reading at the end of this book!
While you’re waiting, tell me – Did you read this book? What did you think? Was it worth all the hype?