BOOK REVIEW: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

2767052 (1)Title: The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

Book Length (Audiobook): 10 hours 35 mins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic 

Read Start Date: November 4, 2019

Read Finish Date: November 12, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before – and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Series: The Hunger Games is the first book in the 3-part series.

My Review: Essentially, the book is a post apocalyptic story about “the Capital” (where all the rich people live) and the surrounding 12 districts, where in most cases the populous is poor and/or starving. Each district has a sort of theme, where each is responsible for producing one type of commodity. For example, District 12 (where Katniss is from) is the coal mining district. District 11 is agriculture, and so on. Katniss’ father was killed in a coal mining accident, which left the family to fend for itself. As a result of their starvation, Katniss takes up hunting, which is where she meets her best friend Gale (enter the first male love triangle participant).

74 years before the book takes place, there was an uprising against the Capital, led by District 13 (responsible for mining elements necessary for nuclear power). The Capital won the war, and obliterated District 13. In order to keep the Districts in line, they created the Hunger Games, forcing the children of the remaining districts to fight each other every year to the death for the entertainment of the Capital. The names of 1 boy and 1 girl from each district are chosen at random to participate, with the number of times the name appears in the pool increasing incrementally every year as the child gets older.

Even though her name is only in the bowl once, Katniss’ 12 year old sister, Primrose, is chosen at the reaping, and Katniss volunteers to take her place in that years Hunger Games. It seems that the odds were not in their favor. This is where we meet Peeta, the second male in the love triangle. Although Katniss has never spoken to this boy, he had had a crush on her since they were children. They are whisked away to the Capital where they will be made up, pampered and forced to enter a closed arena where they will kill or be killed in sometimes gory and violent ways — all to entertain the Capital’s richest people.

I read this book once before in 2011, and while I remembered the overall storyline, had forgotten a lot of the details, so it almost felt like I was reading it again for the first time. I was really surprised to read in some recent reviews (see, Chrissi Reads) that there was talk of banning the book for violence and inappropriate sexual content for its intended age group. First of all, Katniss and Peeta kiss like a few times (as part of the games). That is all. There is not even a hint of sex in this book. I don’t want to give too much away about their relationship because it actually plays a big role in the storyline itself.

I never would have thought of this book as a romance novel anyway (even though on Goodreads it is tagged as such). For me, this book was more dystopian-action-adventure. Was there violence? Sure. But what PG-13 movie nowadays does not have violence or sexual content? What video game does not have violence? Maybe since this book was written 11 years ago (*gasp* has it already been so long?), it was more cutting edge then now in 2019? I don’t know. Anyway, I never thought that this book was inappropriate — but then again I’m the girl who read Roots in the 8th grade. Now that was a disturbing book, and it was based on reality to boot! I think that if we really want to talk about what might be scary for young adults, we should be having a discussion on school shootings, and not The Hunger Games.

But I digress.

This book has been one of my favorites for a while. Katniss is a great female lead character. She is smart, cunning, and brave. Of course she has some flaws too — she is fickle and naive at times, but I think these flaws add to her character and make her more likeable. I mean, who wants a perfect heroine? That would be super boring.

Despite the violence, there were also some really tender moments, where I found myself getting teared up. If you read the book, you will see what I mean — I don’t want to give anything away.

So in conclusion, and before I get too carried away, this book has it all. If you haven’t read this book yet, you really should.