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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Read the book before the movie is made!

I know I’m about three years late jumping on this particular bandwagon, but a few weeks ago I finally had time to read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. While this book is aimed at young adult and high school readers, both my husband and I really enjoyed the fast paced story. I recommend you read it now because it’s currently being turned into a movie, and in my opinion you should always read the book first! Since I knew I wanted to read the books eventually, I avoided a lot of reviews and write-ups, especially as the second and third titles came out. Don’t worry though, I won’t spoil anything for you.

The Hunger Games is set in the future, in what used to be known as North America. The continent has since been divided into thirteen districts and a Capitol. Every year, the districts must each select a male and female teenager at random and send them to the Capitol to participate in The Hunger Games.  Citizens around the nation watch the games live on TV every day, in arenas ranging from deserts to the frozen tundra to the forest. The games have a certain “Survivor-esque” feeling to them, but rather than just voting the losers out, the winner must be the sole survivor.

We first meet the main character Katniss in her hometown of District 12, located in what used to be known as Appalachia. As the sole provider for her mother and younger sister, Katniss worries about what would happen if she were chosen for the games and had to leave them behind to fend for themselves. A few twists and turns later, she faces that reality. (I know, I said no spoilers, but is this really a spoiler after you know the title of the book?) Katniss and Peeta, the male chosen from her district, have help from a well rounded (though slightly bizarre) preparation team. Their team acts as speechwriters, clothing designers, makeup artists, and strategists to get Katniss and Peeta ready for the games, but once the contestants enter the arena, they are mostly on their own to the end.

I struggle to identify a strict genre or category for this book. It’s part sci-fi because of the setting and somewhat creepy because of the subject matter, but there are also really funny moments and a romantic boy-meets-girl storyline. I don’t watch a lot of reality TV these days, but some parts of the book made me think of Rob and Amber from Survivor many years ago. The action is fast paced and once the games started, I couldn’t put the book down. I don’t think of myself as a sci-fi action book reader, but I still really enjoyed The Hunger Games.

Book Information:

I checked this title out from HCPL, but it’s also available at Amazon, local bookstores, or on your favorite e-reader or audiobook device. (As of this posting, the hardcover is actually available on Amazon for under $10!)

This review focuses mainly on The Hunger Games, but it’s the first in a trilogy. As with many trilogies, I liked the first book the best but also enjoyed the other two titles. (Catching Fire & Mockingjay) While I didn’t think the storylines of the other two books were quite as good as the first, they do make a good set and bring resolution to the storylines.

The Hunger Games, the movie, starts filming in North Carolina this week.

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Pat May 23, 2011 at 11:59 PM
Such a page turner! I finished the first two and then waited an agonizing couple of months for the third and final book. It is wonderful! It is " Young Adult" fiction and I would encourage families to read it together. I found the last book to be a deeply thought provoking commentary on the politics of war and the ttragic realities of collateral damage. The movies will be block busters. But as always there is never enough time to capture all the details on film- so treat yourself to reading these. They are also available on Kindle.
Jenny Harner May 24, 2011 at 01:25 AM
Thanks, Pat. I remember that when I read them, I tweeted something along the lines of "Benefits of waiting until all 3 books are written is being able to knock them out in a weekend!" The girl playing Katniss was on the cover of Entertainment Weekly last week - just from those few shots I agree that they'll be blockbusters!

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