The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Rating: ***** (5 out of 5)

Background: I found this book through some of Goodreads‘ best-of lists. People seemed to like it a lot, and the premise sounded interesting, so I gave it a go.

Review: In a post-apocalyptic future, a country has been divided into thirteen Districts (each focused on a specific industry), and ruled by a government based on the Capitol. When the districts decide to rebel against the tyranny of the Capitol, a bloody war ensues, and, following the defeat of the insurgence (and the destruction of District 13), the government creates the Hunger Games as an annual reminder to the districts of who is truly in charge. In these Games, twelve boys and twelve girls, aged from 12 to 18, are randomly selected from each district, and set loose in an arena to kill each other, while the rest of the country watches. Only one can be the winner.

Katniss, the protagonist, is a sixteen year-old girl from District 12, the poorest of the districts, who has learned from early on the hardships of life, and hunts illegally to keep food on her family’s table. When her little sister’s name is called out at the selection, she steps forward and volunteers to take her place, knowing that by doing so she is signing her own death sentence.

This was an incredible book. For once my expectations were met, and exceeded. This is young adult in tone, but asks for more maturity than most YA books out there, since this is a very cruel, realistic world. The Games are of such a macabre nature that is hard to explain, but in the context of the world makes complete sense. The betting of rich people on each contestant, the way everyone tries to manipulate sympathies, the devices the gamemakers use to force contestants to go where they want and confront one another… It’s a very sick game, but one that is easily imaginable, considering all the horrible reality shows that already exist out there. I’m pretty sure something like this would exist if it wasn’t illegal.

The plot is good, though not entirely unpredictable, but the characters are excellent. Katniss is believable as someone who knows what she must do to survive, someone who understands the rules of the game, but is still not cynical enough to be immune to the perversity that permeates everything. The author does a very good job of presenting the world through her eyes, fleshing out the other characters while still being able to leave the question of whether they are a friend or a foe in the air.

The premise may not be the most original (I’ve heard it was based on Battle Royale), but it’s such a well-written book that it doesn’t matter. It’s sure to keep you glued to the pages, suffering for the characters, until the very end. Highly recommended.

P.S. I couldn’t find the cover of the book I own, it’s similar to the one I posted here, but it shows someone who I assume to be Peeta, the fellow contestant from District 12 (since it’s a blond boy with blue eyes). The one at the top of this post shows Katniss, highly distinguishable with the mockingjay pin in her jacket. A nice touch.

What’s Next: I added Battle Royale to my wish-list. Also, the next book in the Hunger Games series is coming out soon, and I will definitely want to read it.

Well, I didn’t start Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell after all. It’s such a huge book that I found it too daunting to get started. Instead I’ll try to get through some of the smaller books in my to-read shelf fast so that I don’t have to feel so guilty while buying new books. 🙂

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4 thoughts on “The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

  1. Ana C. Nunes says:

    In case you’re intersted, there’s a Battle Royale movie that’s pretty good. The manga is also good, if you like manga. I’m not even sure which came first: the book or the manga.

    And I’m glad you enjoyed it (I loved it), and you surely got one of the prettiest cover. *envy* 😄

    • Thanks for the tip, I’ll make sure to check out the movie.

      Yeah, this cover is definitely better than the other one… I understand the whole mockingjay thing in the american cover but it’s certainly not catchy, interesting nor does it say anything about the book. If I hadn’t seen it recommended I probably wouldn’t pick it up because of the cover. I’m a visual person like that. :p

  2. André Nóbrega says:

    I’ll definitely give it a go, I’m always interested in these stories built on dystopian futures that seem quite plausible when we think about what humanity has been capable of before. That a 16-year-old girl decides to risk dying instead of her sister in these brutish games and still feels like a believable character only piques my curiosity even more. And last but surely not least, if you highly recommend it I can’t ignore it, can I? 😀

    I still think you should read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell as soon as possible, I “highly recommend” it and although big, you’ll enjoy it throughout and you’ll feel really satisfied with yourself (and the book of course) for having read it.
    And don’t feel guilty for buying books, think that you’re spending money on and contributing to the preservation of some of the far too few things that might, given the chance and the context, change humanity and the world we share into something better (at least some of them 🙂

    • Hahaha, of course. 🙂 Just let me know when you want it.

      As for Jonathan Strange, I’m pretty sure I’ll love it, but I’m now getting to the point where I’m obsessed about cutting into my to-read list. It’s been steadily climbing instead of decreasing and it’s driving me CRAZY. I think I’ll go through the smaller ones to keep my sanity from going haywire. 😀

      Your last phrase was spot on. 🙂

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