The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Published by Scholastic Press on September 14th 2008
Series: The Hunger Games #1
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 374 pages Source: Borders
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • IndieBound
Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death.
The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The 'tributes' are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.
When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
I read this book for the first time when the craze was only just beginning. The book had been out and about in the world for a couple years, but I daresay it only really caught on with the release of Mockingjay. Not to say it wasn’t popular… it just wasn’t a worldwide phenomenon. But I digress. I chose specifically to read this book again after the release of the movie because I spent far too many of the Harry Potter movies griping over every little missing piece that I forgot to enjoy the movie in and of itself. But to be honest, I think that the filmmakers did an excellent job and even if the story had been fresh in my mind, I believe I would have enjoyed it nonetheless. But I’ve already done that comparison, and this is about the book, not the film.
I enjoyed the book just as much the second time through as I did the first. I had to force myself not to devour it with the same hunger (no pun intended) as I did the first time, because it caught me just as much as it did the first time. As a writer, you know you’ve written a truly remarkable book when the reader cannot put it down during the re-read. I also noticed a lot of details I didn’t the first time through, and found myself either grumbling at the Captiol or laughing at a snide little comment often.
As with the first time I read it, I had difficulty being in Katniss’ head. I know a lot of people liked this, so this is just a personal nitpick for me. I just don’t like her particularly in the books. She’s moody and cynical and ambivalent and cold. Naturally, it is her situation (in life generally and the present) that has made her that way. But that doesn’t mean I have to like her. Maybe I’m not supposed to. After seeing the film, however, I felt less aggravated with her. The film, obviously being in third person, gave a good distance for me, reminding me what Katniss says verses what she thinks. Like all of us, she is entitled to an onslaught of negative thoughts… but it’s what she chooses to express that defines her to the public eye. The distance made her feel more real to me while reading this through the second time, and I was definitely less aggravated.
As for the love triangle… no movie, no re-read can make me change my opinion. Knowing how the books end still made me a little smug as I was reading, knowing that I correctly called the relationship. “Calling” things is one of the most fun parts of reading a series for me – the guessing and drawing possible conclusions (not just about relationships, but the entire book) and then finding out whether or not you were correct… that’s part of the fun of reading any book, and there are lots of ways to be involved in The Hunger Games.
So worth the first read? Absolutely. Worth a re-read? Definitely. Would I read it yet again? Without a doubt. I recommend this to anyone who reads. Except possibly those who prefer romantic dramas, and only that. I feel like this book is genuinely filled with things that will appeal to a wide variety of readers, both of age and interest. Brava, Suzanne Collins!