{Review} The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

{Review} The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Also by this author: Catching Fire
Series: The Hunger Games #1
Also in this series: Catching Fire
Published by Scholastic Press on September 14, 2008
Genres: Dystopian
Pages: 384
Goodreads Buy the Book
4.5 Stars

Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. The Hunger Games have begun...

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, the shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh 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 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 weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

The 411:

Told from the perspective of sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games tells the story of one girl who would do anything to save her sister, even if it means kill or be killed. The book is broken up into three sections, (The Tributes, The Games, and The Victor) each more addicting than the first. It’s a story of struggle, strength, and love. Let the games begin…

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What We Loved:

The first thing that stands out about The Hunger Games and Suzanne Collins’ writing, is how original the world and storyline are. There are a lot of dystopian worlds, a lot of dystopian stories- but this one is so different.

Often times we find ourselves needing more story-building. As readers (and lovers) of dystopian we know how important it is to be immersed in the world that the author has made. If you don’t buy the world they’ve created, the rest just sort of falls apart. In THG that isn’t a problem. We can see how this type of society could be created. There were real consequences for actions. Real problems. It’s all there.

Suzanne Collins’ is not a ‘tell and don’t show’ kind of author. In fact, her words read more like a movie. You can picture each and every scene as you read it. The flow is there, and you don’t find yourself bogged down with a lot of pointless information. Every description and piece of dialogue has a purpose.

There was so much to love, but the easiest way to summarize how much we loved the writing is to say this. Any author who can make you cheer for the teenage heroine to kill other teenagers is not only ballsy, but also extremely talented. This is the kind of book that once you start, you can’t put it down until the last page is flipped.

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Um...Not So Much:

With everything that we like about The Hunger Games, there are also things that we can’t quite get over. First and foremost, there’s the overwhelming sense of sadness. The content of the story doesn’t really allow anything else, and we get that. But that doesn’t mean we like it. Of course we also understand that the way we were feeling about the games is the same way everyone in the districts felt about it too. (Just further proof of Suzanne Collins‘ genius.)

Sticking with the theme of sadness, this section can’t go without mention of one of ours (and probably most peoples) favorite characters. Rue. Her death was tough, probably more so than any of the others. It was a huge turning point for Katniss, Panem, and the entire story. We appreciate that her death wasn’t for nothing… but it didn’t lessen our tears.

Lastly, let’s talk violence. We typically steer clear of anything gory or too brutal. We’re not necessarily squeamish, we just don’t really care for that sort of thing. So reading phrases like, ”raw hunk of meat” as a way to describe one of the tributes, was a bit over the top for us. There wasn’t really a way around the gore, and we realize that if every death was a fade to black it wouldn’t have had the same impact. So while we also accept this fault, it still gives us chills.

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The Boys:

The boys of The Hunger Games are a very touchy subject. We know that some of you are “Team Gale” and while we don’t support that, we also don’t want to say you’re crazy. (That doesn’t mean we don’t think it, but that’s neither here nor there.) In order to cover both sides we asked our friend, Heather, to share a little about her love for Gale. Here’s what she had to say:

Gale is the boy that has always been there.  He’s the best friend that knows all your secrets, your dreams, desires, sad moments…everything.  He is the silent protector, the constant companion, the boy who will be the man Katniss needs.  He’s your boy next door that, over time and before you realize it, means more.  He is more.

“Who would your best friend be?  asks Cinna.  “Gale,” I say instantly.  “Only it doesn’t make sense, Cinna.  I would never be telling Gale those things about me.  He already knows them.”

Yes, Katniss, Gale knows it all.  He watches and waits for you.  His love runs so deeply, but he also knows that it is not the time.  He wants to run away and take Katniss from the life that makes her unhappy.  Peeta makes claims on his love for Katniss in an effort to play the crowd.  They are thrown together in difficult circumstances that bring them close, but nothing can replace Gale  When Katniss returns home, she will have to face Gale knowing he saw everything she did and heard everything she said.  This makes my stomach hurt more than I would like to admit.

So now that we’ve talked about the wrong team, let’s talk about Mr. Right. Peeta. The boy with the bread.

In a world where most characters, especially dystopian characters, are either strong or weak, Peeta is both. Some might see him as weak because there are times when he needs help and asks for it. Or because he appears to have no sense of self-preservation. We only see this as a strength. How strong of a person do you have to be to put EVERYTHING on the line for someone else? To care enough for someone, to believe in someone so much, that you would do anything to keep them alive? Even knowing that it means that you won’t survive? The answer is- incredibly strong.

Peeta is, in so many ways, Katniss’ complete and total opposite. He is kind where she is often severe. He is loving and compassionate where she can be cold. He is charming where she is stand offish . But that’s also part of what made us root for them as a couple. They weren’t an obvious pairing, and yet they were everything that the other person needed.

And if that’s not enough, Peeta is filled with swoony words like these:

Peeta: Well, there is this one girl. I’ve had a crush on her ever since I can remember. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t know I was alive until the reaping.

Caesar: She have another fellow?

Peeta: I don’t know, but a lot of boys like her.

Caesar: So, here’s what you do. You win, you go home. She can’t turn you down, eh?

Peeta: I don’t think it’s going to work out. Winning… won’t help in my case.

Caesar: Why ever not?

Peeta: Because… because… she came here with me.

Caesar: Oh, that is a piece of bad luck.

Peeta: It’s not good.

Caesar: Well, I don’t think any of us can blame you. It’d be hard not to fall for that young lady. She didn’t know?

Peeta: Not until now.”

And these…

“Remember, we’re madly in love, so it’s all right to kiss me anytime you feel like it.”

How can you not love Peeta? To us, Peeta is love.

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The Girls:

When you dig deep and really look at Katniss, you notice something strange. On paper she looks extremely unlovable, when in reality she is anything but. She is strong, fierce, self-sufficient, and everything else a strong female character should be. But hidden within her harsh exterior you find so many layers- strength, loyalty, and a deeply hidden vulnerability.  All of this makes her one of the most real female characters we’ve ever read. She proves that a female lead doesn’t need to be boy-crazy, clothing obsessed, and doe-eyed.

From the very beginning of the book we believed in Katniss. We routed for her. We were able to overlook things that we would normally question because her choices made sense. Her decisions, her desires, and her reasoning were all realistic. We also love that while she’s definitely a badass, she doesn’t possess any skills that seem unrealistic.

This is one of the sections that solidified our love for her:

I want to do something, right here, right now, to shame them, to make them accountable, to show the Capitol that whatever they do or force us to do there is a part of every tribute they can’t own.  That Rue was more than a piece in their Games. And so am I.

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Dream Cast:

We don’t always love casting done for movies, and we aren’t going to lie and say we loved this from day one. But after seeing The Hunger Games in theaters it became very clear that Josh Hutcherson is Peeta. He just is.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark


We already told you our Gale opinion, but we’re curious. For all of you Team Gale people, is Liam what you pictured? We’d love to hear from you!

Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne


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What We Think Will Happen Next:

Since we are writing this review after we’ve finished the entire series, it wouldn’t really be fair to answer this question. The two thoughts we had at the end of The Hunger Games were: 1.) Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. 2.) She better realize that she loves Peeta immediately. Check out our review of Catching Fire for more of our thoughts.

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Bottom Line:

The Hunger Games is thrilling and heartbreaking, yet somehow manages plenty of room for swoon.

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