The Hunger Games: A Review

I recently read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and was absolutely floored by it. I would never have picked a dystopian novel on my own, especially one with such a gruesome premise. [The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic U.S. made up of twelve districts ruled by a brutal, totalitarian regime. Once a year, each district is forced to send a tribute of its children to participate in the Hunger Games – a nationally-televised fight to the death.]

My daughter has been reading dystopian novels in English class and this was one of the selections. It’s been mentioned several times at writer’s conferences as well; thus, my curiosity was piqued. So I picked it up and started reading.

The novel pulled me in from the first paragraph with the mention of “the reaping.”  As the chapter unfolds, we learn about the Hunger Games and begin to fear for Katniss and Gale, who are at great risk of being chosen for the games. At the end of the first chapter, we discover whose name is picked.  It’s a twist that I didn’t expect and set the stakes very high.  And I was hooked.

The Hunger Games is written in first person present tense.  Using first person brings an immediacy and limited perspective that really adds to the tension. We only know what Katniss knows and discover things as she does.  I thought the use of present tense would be a problem for me, but that too worked given that the narrator is only sixteen.  It fit the teenage protagonist.  

While it does have its gore, the novel was far more hopeful and engaging than I ever expected. And the suspense was incredible. It’s the kind of story you can’t get out of your head. You end up thinking about it long after you close the book.

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3 Responses to The Hunger Games: A Review

  1. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time. Thanks for the endorsement. I’ll have to move this up higher on “the list.”

  2. Jenny Pessereau says:

    Thanks for the recent review. I got this for my 16 yr old daughter for Christmas and she seemed to swallow it whole and then thirst for more. Luckily, a friend had the whole series. The next two books went down in two gulps.
    Glad you said that Hunger Games has some hope in it. If it didn’t,would we still consider it a “children’s book.” Isn’t hope the distinction between adult and children’s fiction?

    • chs says:

      My review only covered the first book in the series. Like your daughter, I enjoyed the first so much that I bought and read the second. I haven’t posted a review of Catching Fire yet, but did not like it as much as the first. I’ve not read the third book in the series, but there is a good review on Dear Author. Many readers found the third book difficult and grim.

      I felt that there was hope in the first book. That, in part, was why I liked it and recommended it. Isn’t hope the distinction between adult and children’s fiction? It used to be that way. But I’ve seen a trend in children’s fiction (particularly in YA) toward darker material and subjects. I don’t think that we parents can assume that anymore. While I genuinely enjoy reading MG and YA, I also like to know what my kids are reading. 🙂

      Thanks for your comments.

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