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The Hunger Games: Book 1

A book by Suzanne Collins.

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Reviewing: "The Hunger Games"

  • Sep 20, 2008
  • by
In distant or even not so distant future, the United States of America no longer exists. Instead, after some sort of ecological disaster, civilization collapsed and out of the chaos and the battle for survival, rose the nation of Panem, with a Capital and thirteen encircling districts. There was a time of peace and prosperity and then came the "Dark Days" of rebellion. The rebellion was crushed and the 13th District as well as its residents was obliterated. In the aftermath, thanks to the "Treaty of Treason" the remaining twelve districts agreed, through a lottery style drawing to surrender a male and a female child between the ages of twelve and eighteen to compete in the annual Hunger Games. A televised spectacle used to punish and remind those who live in the districts their place in the nation of Panem where everything exists to serve and entertain those in the Capital. The 24 contestants, known "Tributes" are placed in an outdoor arena capable of sustaining any environment those in charge want, while they battle to the death in order to be the sole survivor.

Katniss "Catnip" Everdeen lives in District 12 with her mom and younger sister, Prim. Despite the fact Prim only had one chance to be selected for the annual Hunger Games, she was. That isn't going to work so Katniss volunteers herself in her sister's place. This is an act almost unheard of and guaranteed to draw a high degree of media attention to her. Soon the male, Peeta Mellark, son of a local baker is chosen as her companion representative. After a few heartfelt goodbyes with family and others, 16 year old Katniss and Peeta are traveling on a high speed train from their home somewhere in Appalachia to the distant Capital somewhere in the Rockies to compete. That train trip begins to heavily illustrate the novel's main idea of two societies where desperate want and a daily battle for survival is a fact of life in the districts and opulence and excess is a fact of life for those of the Capital.

Post apocalypse novels are nothing new and this one certainly isn't. The 374 page book is a sort of odd combination of the television show "Survivor" and "Lord of The Flies" as it touches on themes and concepts handled many times before with better results using far more complex characters. While the author tells a decently engaging story in this first of the series, the work isn't nearly as good as the hype in many reviews. The science fiction angle is very weak and stereotypical as are the characters, the character development, and the plot, not to mention the telegraphed and obviously open ended outcome of the book. Utterly predictable throughout with no subtlety or nuance, this simplistic novel doesn't even have any clever lines that mean one thing to adults and another to teenagers as author Rick Riordan does in his excellent " Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series.

And that is the rub here. For adults, especially those of us who have read quite a lot over the years in the sci-fi genre and elsewhere and have seen all sorts of forms of this in movies and television, this book simply doesn't work at all for all the reasons cited. However, for the audience it is intended for, young adults who may not be interested in or ready for these types of themes handled in complex ways by authors such as Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Robert C. Clark, Harlan Ellison and many others, the book with its fast pace and plenty of action will work. For the audience it is intended for, who hasn't had the in-depth exposure that many adult readers have had, this novel could work as written. Engaging teenagers in reading is important and this book, while a failure for widely read adults, should work for the actual intended audience.

Kevin R. Tipple (copyright) 2008

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More The Hunger Games reviews
review by . December 20, 2012
We're all familiar with the old storytelling trope about the evil empire oppressing the good guys who are helpless to do anything about it. Those actual stories, though, have one particular thing in common: They're all told from the point of view of one of the scrappy revolutionary good guys. Has anyone ever wondered about the everyday people who weren't some secret spies for the rebels? This is the dynamic that author Suzanne Collins first introduces us to in The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games …
review by . June 16, 2010
Have you ever read a book and after you finish it you want to kind of shove it into anyone and everyone else’s hands so they can read it too? This is the state I’ve been in ever since completing The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I can’t even remember where I first heard about this book. It’s easily one of the best books I’ve read all year. I’m only sorry I didn’t discover it sooner.                 …
review by . November 20, 2010
Dystopia, Big Brother and post-apocalypse are themes that have been included in novels so often that it could well be a life's work for a librarian to prepare an exhaustive catalogue of titles. But, in terms of quality, the devil is in the details and Suzanne Collins has justifiably taken the world by storm. Her novel, THE HUNGER GAMES, inspired by the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, is an innovative, dare I say unique, young adult twist on the recurring themes of violence, cruely, despair, …
review by . April 19, 2012
Told from the perspective of the main character, Katniss, THE HUNGER GAMES takes place in a future where the United States as we know it no longer exists. The book never explains exactly what happened, but years earlier there was some sort of economic collapse and global catastrophe. In the aftermath, what was once the continent of North America is now a country called Panem. In what is explained in THE HUNGER GAMES, Panem was controlled by a massive Capitol City that ruled over thirteen separate …
review by . December 16, 2010
Staying alive
Novels with dystopian themes have been popular for generations, and one of the newest, The Hunger Games, is worthy enough to merit a place among the classics. Written for teens, with adolescent main characters, the story will snag and rivet the attention of an older readership as well. The plot is straightforward: the American democratic experiment has failed, leaving the surviving population distributed among a dozen rigidly separated settlements, each region assigned to produce a specific commodity …
review by . July 07, 2010
When I first read the summary for Hunger, I had a clear picture in my head of what was going to take place within these pages: a no-holds barred, youth-oriented battle royale. If that's what you want to read, then you will get that in this book. But the beauty of what Collins has done here is that you also get so much more.      Hunger opens when the protagonist, Katniss, is chosen to participate in the annual Games, an event created by the Capitol to keep down the rebellious …
review by . November 13, 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. Ruthless and calculating, the Capitol rules the districts with an iron hand. Especially after what happened to District 13. But people don’t talk about that. Inside the Capitol life is a constant celebration filled with beauty and abundance, especially during the Games. Outside the Capitol, in the other districts, people live in poverty struggling to find …
review by . July 26, 2010
So my friend Sarah has been trying to get me to read this book since it first appeared in the hands of her middle school students.  She says she thinks it’s “better than Harry Potter”.  While I’m not ready to go that far, I do think Suzanne Collins has successfully created a series that is head and shoulders above the enormous pool of fantasy/dystopian young adult books that have exploded on the market since J.K. Rowling opened the floodgates.      …
review by . June 27, 2010
This is the first of the best young adult series that I've read all year. In "the Hunger Games" we see a government gone wrong. By wresting control of all life from it's constituents, the government has consigned them to a life of horror. The heroine and narrator is Katniss Evergreen, a practical, level-headed teen and the sole support of her mother and younger sister. Her father having died in a mine explosion (the family lives in a coal-mining district with an Appalachian feel, …
review by . August 02, 2010
"There's some confusion on the stage. District 12 hasn't had a volunteer in decades and the protocol has become rusty. The rule is that onece a tribute's name has been pulled from the ball, another eligible boy, if a boy's name has been read, or a girl, if a girl's name has been read, can step forward to take his or her place. In some districts, in which winning the reaping is such a great honor, people are eager to risk their lives, the volunteering is complicated. But in District 12, where the …
About the reviewer
Kevin R. Tipple ()
Ranked #90
My stories have appeared in such magazines such as “Lynx Eye,” “Starblade,” “Show and Tell,” and "The Writer's Post Journal" among others and online at … more
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The Hunger Games is a young adult science fiction novel written by bestselling author of The Underland ChroniclesSuzanne Collins. It was originally published in hardcover on September 14, 2008 by Scholastic Press. It is the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy, with two more books to come. It introduces sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world where a dictatorship called the Capitol has risen up after several devastating disasters. In the book, the Hunger Games are an annual televised event where a ruthless Capitol randomly selects one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts, who are then pitted against each other in a game of survival and forced to kill until only one remains.

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ISBN-10: 0439023521
ISBN-13: 978-0439023528
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Teens
Publisher: Scholastic Press
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1984 (British first edition)

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