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The Hunger Games: Book 1

A book by Suzanne Collins.

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THE HUNGER GAMES is a bestseller for very good reason!

  • Nov 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, privation and revolution that are the mainstays of these types of novels.

A distant future North America, now called Panem, is divided into 12 distinct economic districts ruled with an iron fist from the Capitol located in the northwest Rocky Mountain region of the former USA. Every year, in a bizarre celebration called "The Reaping", the Capital "honours" each district by selecting two children that will be called "tributes", one boy and one girl, to participate in THE HUNGER GAMES. The 24 children are released into a wilderness arena and are expected not only to survive but to battle one another to the death. The last remaining child is returned to his or her district as a conquering hero.

The games, reminiscent of Rome's bloodthirsty gladiatoral combats, are televised as an extravaganza throughout Panem on a minute by minute basis. Carefully engineered from start to finish, the sculpted terrain of the "arena" might be anything from arctic or forest to desert or rugged mountains; an unknown supply of weapons and supplies are provided but will have to be fought for and "won" as part of the entertainment; the games are replete with intermittent technologically engineered disasters such as fires, teeming rainstorms or earthquakes; genetically engineered humans or animals called "muttations" are periodically released to provide extra challenge for the tributes or extra entertainment for the viewing audience.

Of course, the entire affair is intended to serve notice to Panem of the continuing absolute authority of the Capitol over the Districts. But somehow, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the tributes from District 12 and the perennial underdogs of the Games, unwittingly create an untenable political embarrassment for the Capitol and the engineers running the Games by doing nothing more than remaining true to themselves, their friends and family, to each other and to their values. By thinking and reacting in an unprecedented and entirely unpredictable way, Katniss and Peeta create the first small kernels and the obvious foreshadowing of a rebellion to come.

Katniss and Peeta are truly intelligent, well-crafted, complex, memorable characters displaying the love, friendship, loyalty, courage, innovation and independence that contrast obviously with the much darker themes so typical of other dystopian novels that we're more familiar with. Suzanne Collins has crafted a winning page-turner that will pull you in, quickly and deeply. Like everyone in Panem, you'll find yourself riveted to the pages rooting for Katniss' and Peeta's survival and biting your fingernails with worry over every obstacle they encounter. Then even if they both survive the predations of the other 22 competitors, how will they deal with the requirement to ultimately battle one another to the death to provide the Games with a single surviving winner?

THE HUNGER GAMES was focused on world-building and action. But my expectation is that the subsequent instalments in the trilogy, CATCHING FIRE and THE MOCKINGJAY, will focus more on the cerebral themes of politics and revolution. And, frankly, I can't wait to get to them! Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss

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December 22, 2010
Great review! We had a detailed discussion about the Roman influences in the book, but none of us knew that it was based on the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. I'll have to mention this in Yahoo Cafe Libri now. It might clarify some unanswered questions we had. I'll be writing a review of this book soon myself. I'm on the second one of the series now.
February 17, 2011
Sounds like a good video! Off to read and rate your review now. Did you post anything for it in Cafe Libri? I'm hoping to finish my own review on it within the next few weeks. :)
November 20, 2010
I've been wondering what this series is about. Yikes! Very well done, Paul!
November 20, 2010
Add this one to your MUST read list, Linda. It's a definite winner.
November 20, 2010
Thanks for the sterling recommendation!
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 . 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 …
review by . October 06, 2010
Hunger Games and it's second part ( Catching Fire) were Christmas gifts from my boyfriend but I must admit that I haven't really heard much about them prior to last year's holiday. Once I had them all sorts of wonderful reviews started to come to my attention and I wondered: what is this book, why is it so special? All I had to do was read it to find out for myself but I read it without knowing too much of the plot and I have to say it was a wonderful way to go about it. The book was …
About the reviewer
Paul Weiss ()
Ranked #15
   A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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About this book


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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